18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans8:18
Many times when we read or hear words like those in our Romans 8 verse for today. we are tempted to want to say "Yeah right!" much like disillusioned teenagers do.
It's tempting to say that Paul is resorting to pie-in-sky-one-day-when-we-die theology and that this is a cop out in the face of genuine soul-wrecking pain.
Here are some important points to note:
* Paul is no ivory tower theologian. He suffered more than most of us have. Beatings, imprisonments, stoned, left for dead, shipwrecked, hated, betrayed, persecuted, accused, long term illnesses, unanswered prayers, the burden of leadership, failed protÃ©gÃ©s and wayward congregations were just some of the heartaches he experienced. As far as hardship and suffering go, Paul is a veteran: he knows what he is talking about.
* While the here-and-now dominates our horizon, Paul is correct, the destination will outshine the journey's hardships. Elsewhere he describes the not-yet as "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"(1Cor2:9) While the anticipation of heaven does not remove the pain of the present, it does give us a critical tool for survival: HOPE.
* Finally, we must recognise that the glory revealed in us is not confined to the afterlife. God's glory is at work in our present sufferings in that He gives us the strength to get through and overcome. Our triumph and glory is not in the absence of trouble, but that we overcome trouble. Paul puts it like this:
"8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body." (2Co4:8-10)
A few years radio 94.7 did a tv spot with a parktown prawn* where you saw the prawn being sprayed with insecticide, swatted with a shoe, thrown into a bucket of water, shot at with a shotgun and chased with deodrant ignited by a lighter to make a flame-thrower. At the end of the spot the insect emerges from his hidey hole to the background music of Elton John's "I'm still standing."
In a sense Paul says "you can jail me, flog me, hate me and betray me but thanks to the power of God I'm still standing and I am not bitter and twisted but filled with hope, love and peace!"
That's the glory of God revealed in us!
* A Parktown Prawn is a cross between a locust, cockroach and your worst insect nightmare!