We are only traveling through this world of suffering to the Glory that awaits us. The suffering that we must and will go though pales compared to his Glory that we will receive.
Romans 8:17b-19 (ESV)
17b …heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
Here we find the part that is difficult to understand and to accept, it actually says that we must suffer with Christ to be glorified. And why should we accept such a thing it does not seem far, if the gift of salvation is truly free why must we suffer?
Paul tells us why the need to suffer does not negate the fact the gift is free.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us
The word “consider” here does not mean he just guesses or thinks this is true. The word Paul actually used in the Greek means that he has reached a firm conviction through rational thought. He is convinced it is true that because of the truth of the Gospel he knows the powerful truth that future glory is found in relation to present suffering for it can change our lives.
If one reads such passages as 2 Cor.1:8-10; 4:7-12; 16-18; 11:23 to 12:10, we can see how much Paul suffered in Christ’s service. Even while writing this letter he was preparing to leave on a mission to Jerusalem that would endanger his life (Rom 11:31). Yet he insists that the sum total of these trials does not deserve to be even mentioned in the same breath with His coming glory.
It is as if he has a scale in front of him. On one side he places “the sufferings of this present time” and on the other “the glory that is to be revealed to us.” When the glory that is to be revealed is placed on the scale it makes all our present sufferings, however terrible they might be, insignificant. Future glory is so great that present sufferings are nothing in comparison. For this glory is forever, whereas our suffering is temporary and light (2 Cor. 4:17). Surely this puts our present suffering under the threat of Corvid-19, under lock down in a different light?
The glory that is to be revealed to us, when Christ comes in His glory, will come to us not only as a glory we will see but we will share in it, in fact, we will be part of it. The Angels will behold it in us, and will be filled with thanksgiving and praise to God.
Praise be to God, for we will be part of the radiance of the coming glory which properly seen should make our present suffering seem short and light.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV)
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self [a] is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Emperor Nero was fascinated by the look of glory on the faces of a small band of Christians going to their death in the coliseum. After prayer they looked up and gazed far out into the beyond. Wondering Nero said to an aide, “They see something.” Yes sire” the aide replied, “they see the glory of the resurrection from the dead.”
Not only is their hope in suffering the relationship between afflictions and future glory is also seen in the whole of Creation.
- How does this make you think again about the suffering of this present age?
- Are you the kind of Christian who looks up and sees the coming glory even when going from suffering?
Let the words of this song encourage you —
And as the song says our Lord will though our present suffering and our future fear be whispering courage in our ear. An encouragement that we will be Glorified and suffering in this world are not worth comparing to that.