Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
When we left off last week in verse 17, Paul was saying that as adopted children of God—His heirs—we will be glorified with Christ If we suffer with Him. This suffering comes because we are saying “yes” to God’s freely offered adoption—an adoption that requires that we join God in His will and His ways. Any time we do this, it always exacts a price. Why? Because we are adopted into a family of eternal values—values that are at odds with the world we live in.
So what does this mean for you and me? It means we can expect to experience some form of suffering—the gospel life is a costly life. It may mean that you are wronged or mistreated because of your unwillingness to just go along with the crowd. It may mean that you are hated and mistreated because of your faith. You might even be shunned. It may even mean that some of us will one-day face direct harm because of our faith. All of this—and more—are not outside the realm of possibilities.
This can be a somewhat depressing picture! But the other side of the coin is this: You and I, as Christ followers, will experience a kind of life that others—those who don’t know God—can only imagine! This is the part of the Christian life Paul wants us to focus on in the midst of our suffering.
In verse 18, Paul intended to fill readers with encouragement and hope. He knew that believers were going to suffer–notice that he used suffering in the present tense. Think about suffering for a moment. None of us wants to suffer; it’s not wrong for us to feel this way. When we think about suffering, It seems like it would only dampen our hope, but in this verse Paul said it’s just the opposite! Suffering—the kind of suffering we’ve just talked about—actually furthers and strengthens our hope instead of suppressing it.
Why does it do this? Because when you compare it to our future glory it pales in comparison—our current suffering will one day seem like a pinprick as we spend eternity with Christ. And if you think this is an isolated train of thought for Paul, it’s not. Elsewhere he said, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Cor. 4:17-18).”
One final thought that has to do with the glory that will be revealed in us. What exactly does that mean? Paul had in mind the word “doxa”—it points to the transformation of the body through resurrection. It anticipates the day when people will enjoy the glory and honor that Christ already achieved in His ascension looking forward to His second coming, to the day when believers will spend eternity with Him. Scripture does not tell us much of what that glory will be, but one thing is true: it assures us that it will be. We can rest assured that the glory will be revealed “in us.”
As The Expositor’s Bible Commentary on Romans put it: “Weighed in the scales of true and lasting values, the sufferings endured in this life are light indeed, compared with the splendor of the life to come—a life undisturbed by anything hostile or hurtful.”
We all will face suffering in all its many different shapes and sizes. One thing we can never forget is that our suffering as believers comes our way because of our “yes” to Jesus—to His eternal values. As we endure suffering in this life, God uses it to transform us more and more into the likeness of Christ, especially when it is done for the sake of the Gospel.
For me, the takeaway is that I don’t need to focus on all the ways I’ve been wronged. Yes, I’ve been wronged and there is a sense of injustice, but am I going to dwell in it or am I going to move on and focus my attention on what Christ has done for me? Honestly, sometimes I need to focus more on the weight of glory that Paul wrote about, because one day soon I will spend eternity with Christ. What will those times of suffering be to me then? Nothing.
*From what you have just read and considered, what is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the Gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live out this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the Good News today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.
Inspiration and insight for the devotionals came from the following books: Reading Romans with John Stott; The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series), Stott, John; Romans (The NIV Application Commentary Book 6) Moo, Douglas J.; Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) Moo, Douglas J.; Believers Bible Commentary; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, Romans through Galatians; NIV Application Study Bible. The Cambridge Bible Commentary, Romans, Best, Ernest.