Today's Devotional: In Christ (Part 6)

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:18-25 ESV).

Every time I go to do one of my every eight week phlebotomies, I am reminded how fortunate I am in dealing with “suffering.” It may be true that I have seen some measure of difficulty in life; however, as I see those who are getting treatment for various cancers and other diseases, I know that my journey has been pretty easy actually. The physical sufferings I experience are really nothing compared to others I have known and seen.

The Apostle Paul knew something about suffering also. It was not an academic exercise for him. Paul knew all about suffering firsthand. The Christians who received his letter knew the pain of persecution at the hands of oppressive emperors in Rome. AS I write today, I do want to minimize your suffering. We know suffering too. Depending on our situation our suffering goes by different names: the agony of losing a loved one way too early; the pain of living in the shadow of persecution; the vicarious suffering we feel on behalf of those who are hurting. The physical challenges of ill health and the pain of broken relationships are all too common.

Remember, our faith never promises that we won’t have to suffer. Christ never assured us that everything would happen as we desire. Suffering has always been in tension with the promises of the faith we hold and proclaim. Paul does not shy away from acknowledging “the sufferings of this present time.” He never tries to ignore pain or gloss over it as something trivial. However, he does urge us to look to a day when all the world’s pain will give way to the new creation God is bringing about. And he suggests putting our pain in perspective: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed to us.” The great promise of our faith is that one day we will exchange all the sufferings we have ever known for a glory we cannot now imagine. I know many of you who read these devotionals personally. Some of you suffer terribly. Can I encourage you by simply saying it is coming to a close; and, perhaps very soon. Jesus has already won the glory for us. It awaits! Keep moving to that great day of God almighty!

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