From Groans to Glory

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18, CSB)

Perhaps no other verse defines my daily efforts than Romans 8:18. Why? Because life is hard. I am disappointed by people, including myself. The world is evil. I see more and more atrocities of man the longer I live. But a robust theology is an anchor for my soul.

Sufferings. Most often in the New Testament, this word refers to the sufferings of Jesus. Jesus was misunderstood by his family, ridiculed by his countrymen, considered a heretic by his religious leaders, abandoned by his friends, homeless, beaten, exposed, and killed. By God’s grace, my life is not like that. But the hard times in my life need to be faced with a similar trust in God. A trust that comes from a relationship with God and knowledge of God’s Word. If I am faithful in the small challenges, I should be faithful in the big ones.

I consider [these sufferings] not worth comparing. In the journal of my heart, I waste no ink on them. In the quiet moments of my day, I don’t give them time. I don’t hold my sufferings in one hand and the glory of seeing God in the other and wonder which one is more important. Sufferings are tossed aside.

For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.” (2 Corinthians 4:17, CSB)

Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may also rejoice with great joy when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:13, CSB)

They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.” (Revelation 22:4, CSB)

The glory that is going to be revealed to us. Have you ever seen a jaw-dropping sunrise? You see, we live in the morning twilight of this world. The era of the church is like that time before the sun comes up fully. It’s still dark, but we can start to make out what’s going on around us. The darkness is being pushed back. If that was the only light that we ever had, we would become happy and content with that little bit of light.

But when the sun rises, there is no comparison. Those twilight hours are completely forgotten when the sun rises in all its glory. So many are satisfied with their compartmentalized God. Their self-defined view of God is not going to inspire hope when life gets hard. Long to see God’s face. Trust in a big God. This is not a state of denial. It is perspective. God at the center of every relationship, heartbreak, and choice.

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Are we kings in this life?

Since by the one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive the overflow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17, CSB)

I’ve heard this phrase misused a lot. People are quick to claim these realities of our royalty like it’s here and now. I’ve heard comments such as: “You are a child of the king, pray like it” or “We are reigning even now in this life so nothing can stand in our way.”

“In life” is being used to qualify what type of reign it is. It is a reign that takes place in the space of true life. This life that we live in this body is just a shadow of the true life that we are promised with God forever. It’s easy to get caught in the message of eternal life when we should be rejoicing over the promise of authentic life. When we stress the acquisition of eternal life, we are coming dangerously close to the words of the serpent in the garden.

We are promised struggles in this life, but we are also promised that genuine faith ignites hope, endurance, and character within us. These things are used by the Spirit of God to navigate the pains of this life while we wait for true and everlasting life with God in the age to come.

As always, scripture gives a friendly perspective:

if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us;” (2 Timothy 2:12, CSB)

Night will be no more; people will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, because the Lord God will give them light, and they will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 22:5, CSB)