“For I consider that the suffering of this present time are not worth comparing with the Glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18
Suffering and pain maliciously grip our memories. The hurts of our past are typically the prison of our freedom. Similarly, present distress blinds our hopeful vision with its demonic darkness. Through suffering and present trouble many fail to see the divine comfort of God. The horrors of surgery increase our anxieties all the while diminishing the future goal of healing. Bitter medicine is avoided though it may hold the cure to our infections. We fear the dentist’s drill though it eliminates decay. However, neither previous examples are defeated by its immediate pain but yet endured for the sake of future restoration. Allowing your body to wither and decline further is not a worthy comparison to future health even if it must endure the passing pains of surgery. The sour taste of antibiotics or the swallowing of horse-pills holds supreme worth than decadent wellbeing. A white and healthy smile normally must endure the uncomfortable touch of a caring dentist.
The Holy Spirit illuminates this concept through God’s chosen instrument. The Apostle Paul states present suffering is unworthy of comparison to future glory. Later in the chapter, Paul states that all things work for the good, for those who love God and called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). We must truly wrestle with this concept as finite beings. How can rape, molestation, murder, genocide, and other atrocities work for our good? Theologians have attempted to answer such monumental questions. First, we must realize God, and specifically Paul, are not ignorant of such suffering. Paul is writing to a persecuted church who risked their lives for the Gospel daily. Christians were being persecuted. Did Paul not anticipate the future annihilation of Christians by Nero? Of course, Paul knew of Stephen’s stoning for He was there. Surely, Paul knew of James the apostle’s beheading. Paul himself had been flogged, shipwrecked, socially forsaken, and beaten. Still He has the inspiration to write Romans 8:18. R.C Sproul states “The difference between the present degree of pain we experience and the blessedness to which God has appointed his people is so immensely different that there is no way to compare them. Any comparison we come up with falls short.”
Paul prophetically looks through the scriptural glass to gaze at our marvelous glorification; where we will be resurrected (1 Thess. 4:13-18) and the consummation of the new earth and new heaven will be the campus where every tear will be wiped away (Revelation 21). The promise of prophetic revelation was Paul’s surpassing treasure amongst the darkness of this fallen world. When God speaks future promises, they are present amidst pain now. How can we be sure? First, how was Paul sure? Looking further down the chapter of Romans 8 we find our revelation in verse 32. It states “He who did not spare his own son….” I stop there because that is enough, though God’s gracious word provides so much more! But please stop here for now. The revelation that God was pleased to crush his own son to endure our wrath is an amazing promise cemented by an unconditional loving action (Isaiah 53, 1 Peter 3:18, 2 Corinthians 5:21, and John 3:16). Christ suffered greatly on our behalf. The passion of the Christ secured peace, security, and future hope in present trouble. God demonstrated His divine will and protective providence for His children on Calvary therefore we can be assured eternity is a surpassing worth than any pain here. More theological and eschatological arguments could be presented. However, I believe that verse 32 of Romans 8 is the best solution to Christian pain. We find rest in a promised hope fulfilled by a deadly demonstration of undying love.
For God’s Glory,