v17. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
v18. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
In this passage, Paul describing the reason for his refusal to lose heart in the face of suffering for Christ. He wrote in the previous verse that his current suffering, though nearly unbearable at times (2 Corinthians 1:8), can’t even be compared to the far weightier glory of eternity.
To Paul, this is something that cannot be seen in this life, meaning the spiritual world. The things that are visible to humans in this life are here for just a moment and then gone.
Obviously, anything that exists in this world lasts a very short time in comparison with those things that are eternal. Also he believed that what is visible to us will come and go very quickly.
God, is eternal, meaning that whatever exists with Him in the spiritual world will never end. Paul is able to keep his focus on the glories of eternity by keeping his inner focus on what is eternal. This allows him to endure suffering in this life.
Paul urges believers to exercise the same focus in Colossians 3:1–4, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
It is only when we take the ‘things that are not seen’ into account, and make them the standard by which we judge all things, do we understand ‘the things that are seen.
The things which are seen are temporal. This refers particularly to wealth, pleasure and fame. These are the three idols which the people of this world adore, but it’s for a little time.
They will all soon vanish away. So it is with pain, and sorrow, and tears.
All that we enjoy, and all that we suffer here, must soon vanish and disappear. The most splendid palace will decay and turns to dust.
The most magnificent city will fall to ruins; the most exquisite earthly pleasures will soon come to an end, and the most extended possessions can be enjoyed but a little time.