It’s not a word we can define quickly or easily. We know God is glorious (Ps. 106:20; Jer. 2:13). We know we’re supposed to “glorify” God (Ps. 69:30). But what does it mean? Theologians have debated this for centuries, but one of the best directions to move in is consider what glory literally means: “weight.”

When something is “weighty” it’s important; or it matters. What is important to you possesses glory. 

After The Lord of the Rings trilogy was published in the 1950’s, a woman named Rhona Beare wrote Tolkien and asked him about the chapter in which the Ring of Power is destroyed and the Dark Lord Sauron’s power collapses as a result. She found it inexplicable that this overwhelming power could be wiped out by the erasure of such a little object. 

Tolkien responded, “The Ring of Sauron is only one of the various mythical treatments of the placing of one’s life, or power, in some external object, which is thus exposed to capture or destruction with disastrous results to oneself.”

In other words, if we want to kill ourselves after losing something, we’ve given it too much glory; too much weight. To put it differently, the amount of glory you ascribe to something external to you creates the conditions needed for suffering’s impact to be significant. All it takes is for the loss of that thing to cause you to collapse.

So one of the many things God may be doing in our suffering is reestablishing himself as the one who is to be most glorious in our lives. Tim Keller writes, “Only if you make God matter most…will you have a safe life.”

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