Topic:Our Present Sufferings
READ THE SCRIPTURE: ROMANS 8:18-25
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
The theme of that verse and the next nine verses is that incomparable glory lies ahead — glory beyond description, greater than anything you can compare it with on earth. A magnificent and fantastic prospect awaits us. All through the Scriptures there has been a thread of hope, a rumor of hope that runs all through the Old Testament, through the prophetic writings, and into the New Testament. This rumor speaks of a day that is coming when all the hurt and heartache and injustice and weakness and suffering of our present experience will be explained and justified and will result in a time of incredible blessing upon the earth. The whisper of this in the Old Testament increases in intensity as it approaches the New Testament, where you come to proclamations like this that speak of the incomparable glory that lies ahead.
We tend to make careful note of our suffering. Just the other day, I received a letter from a man who had written out in extreme detail a report of his recent operation. He said he had to listen to all the reports of other people’s operations for years, and now it was his turn! We make detailed reports of what we go through in our sufferings. But here the apostle says, Don’t even mention them! They are not worthy to be mentioned in comparison with the glory that is to follow.
Now, that statement would be just so much hot air if it didn’t come from a man like Paul. Here is a man who suffered intensely. He was beaten, he was stoned with rocks, he was chained, he was imprisoned, he was shipwrecked, starved, often hungry and naked and cold. Yet it is this apostle who takes pen in hand and says, Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that shall be revealed in us. The glory that is coming is incomparable in intensity.
Our sufferings hurt us, I know. I am not trying to make light of them or diminish the terrible physical and emotional pain that suffering can bring. It can be awful, almost unendurable. Its intensity can increase to such a degree that we scream with terror and pain. We think we can no longer endure. But the apostle is saying that the intensity of the suffering we experience is not even a drop in the bucket compared with the intensity of glory that is coming. You can see that Paul is straining the language in trying to describe this fantastic thing that is about to happen, which he calls the revelation of the glory that is coming.
This glory is not only incomparable in its intensity, but it is also incomparable in its locality. It is not going to be revealed to us, but in us. The word, literally, means into us. This glory is not going to be a spectator sport, where we will sit up in some cosmic grandstand and watch an amusing or beautiful performance in which we have no part. We are to be on the stage. We are going to be involved in it. It is a glory that will be revealed into us, and we are part of it.
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This is the incredible glory that God has prepared for those who love him, that he has given to us — not because we have been faithful, not because we earn it, but because we are heirs of God, and co-heirs with Christ. All Christians suffer. There are no exceptions. If you are a true and genuine believer in Jesus Christ, you will suffer. But we are not only given the privilege of suffering with him now, but also of sharing in his glory that is yet to come. We can endure the suffering, and even triumph in it, because we see the glory that is to follow.
Lord, thank you so much for the glory that awaits me. Help me to endure suffering with joy because of the hope you have given me.
What affect does the expectation of promised glory have on our view and experience of suffering? Did the Apostle Paul’s suffering make him more, or less, self-focused?