Monday, February 18, 2008

The Finishing Tape

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

Paul ended the last section of Romans 8 by stating that we must suffer in order that we may be glorified with Christ.  We must suffer.  The Lord will allow Satan to afflict us.  We can be one hundred percent sure that, until the Lord returns, we will suffer.  Paul does not shrink away from this truth; he rather lifts our eyes to our glorious hope.  He makes the astonishing statement that "the suffering of this present time is not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed to us."  We would waste our time and energy comparing today's trials with tomorrow's joy.

He then proves this statement by showing how the creation longs for the coming of the Lord and its release from futility.  He argues that the creation, though it is currently beautiful and grand, longs eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.  It follows, then, that we have an unspeakably great glory to look forward to.  This is not just a dry theological truth that Christians are glorified in eternity.  This hope gives us a place to stand when trials crush our false foundations in this world.  In the same way that a runner is strengthened by the sight of the finishing tape, we can be strengthened by thoughts of our future joy.  To meditate on our hope of glory will nourish our souls and bring us "peace that surpasses all comprehension." (Phil. 4:7)

Verse 25 of Romans 8 says that we wait for this glory with patience.  When we lift our eyes from our temporary sufferings to our future eternal joy, no trial will be too strong to stand and--though our heart is broken--our faith will stand intact.

No comments: