Being a Christian does not make one immune from suffering. Suffering can come in many forms at various times, to the young or the old, to the man or the woman, to the single or the married, to the Christian or the non-Christian. Although suffering affects Christians like everyone else, it doesn’t mean Christians are to react like everyone else.
God has expectations for his children regarding how they should face suffering. There is much on the line for the Christian when suffering comes. Paul puts it this way, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God—and fellow heirs of God, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:16–17). Our future glory and inheritance is dependent on our remaining faithful to Christ in the midst of our suffering.
But how? How can we remain faithful when the pain is so raw? How can we remain faithful when everything within us wants to throw in the towel? How can we remain faithful when God seems distant? How can we remain faithful when our suffering continues year after year and it seems God will never change our situation?
We find one of Paul’s answers in Romans 8:18, which says, “For I consider the sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
Sufferings of the Present Time.
You might be tempted to say to Paul that he is not qualified to come to his conclusion—that the sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed—because he hasn’t faced deep suffering. Because he hasn’t faced suffering like your suffering.
We get a glimpse of Paul’s sufferings in 2 Corinthians 1:8–9. He writes, “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.”
Paul was no stranger to suffering and was faithful to Christ in the midst of the pain.
The motivation for faithfulness for Paul—and for us—is the future glory that is ours. But just what is that future glory? Paul gives two answers: First, creation will one day be set free (Romans 8:21) and second, Christians will fully and finally be brought into God’s family, or put another way: redeemed (Romans 8:23).
Can you imagine what that will be like? To be fully a part of God’s family in a creation that has been set free? It will be like the Garden of Eden, but more like Eden 3.0; it will be like Christmas morning when you were a kid, but the presents will never disappoint because we will have the presence of Christ.
So even if your pain is raw today or if you feel like throwing in the towel, take heart. We have a hope that will never disappoint. Jesus is worth it.
Master of Divinity, 2014
Bethlehem College & Seminary
Prayer Requests …
- Please pray that the college and seminary students will all take new strides this semester in personal holiness and love for Jesus.
- Please pray for the fourth year seminary students as they look to their next step after graduation.
- Pray for the many pastors, elders, ministry leaders, and worship leaders who will attend the 2015 Desiring God Conference for Pastors February 2–4.