The Glory in Suffering
Bible Reading: Romans 8
Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
2 Corinthians 4:17, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”
Both these verses contrast the believer’s present sufferings against the future glory which lies ahead. Everyone on this planet experiences suffering. Indeed, there is no place to which you can go to escape it. Those who live only for the here and now cannot look forward to any alleviation or escape, because their sufferings are only a precursor to a greater, eternal suffering which is prepared for those who refuse the gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:9-10). The believer faces both common human suffering and the added burden of suffering for Christ’s sake. It is the prospect of future glory which keeps him from losing hope.
The Apostle Paul was an expert on suffering, having experienced more than his fair share (2 Corinthians 11:23-29). He knew all about suffering, but deemed it to be light and momentary in comparison to future glory. Such afflictions can only be deemed light and momentary when weighed against something else. Imagine a balance scale in your mind’s eye. On one side of the scale, place your afflictions, having gathered them all up, big and small. It seems like a lot, doesn’t it? Now, on the other side of the scale, place the “eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” The weight of what God has prepared for us makes our afflictions, though they appear huge to us now, seem smaller in comparison. God has prepared for us “an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison!” To be sure, there’s some mystery here. The term “glory” is itself a big word! Yet bound up in there is the redemption of our bodies, Christlikeness and our future home in heaven! Jesus promised the day will come when He will “transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). The trials we face in the here and now are temporary. The glory we will experience in heaven with Jesus will be forever!
MacArthur nicely summarizes how we should view our present suffering in view of our future glory: “As followers of Christ, our suffering comes from men, whereas our glory comes from God. Our suffering is earthly, whereas our glory is heavenly. Our suffering is short, whereas our glory is forever. Our suffering is trivial, whereas our glory is limitless. Our suffering is in our mortal and corrupted bodies, whereas our glory will be in our perfected and imperishable bodies.”
Our present troubles seem lighter when weighed against the future glory God has prepared for us. The key then to maintaining hope amidst our sufferings then is to use your eyes of faith. Depending on the Spirit, as He speaks to you through your Word, you can “set your minds on things above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). Treat the matter like making a lengthy trip to some glorious destination. Though you may face some hardships along the way, keeping your focus on where you are going will help you to remain hopeful!
BE STILL, MY SOUL
Be still, my soul; the Lord is on your side;
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to your God to order and provide;
in ev’ry change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; your best, your heav’nly friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul; the hour is hast’ning on
when we shall be forever with the Lord,
when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still my soul; when change and tears are past,
all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.