Groaning For Glory

Romans 8:18-25

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 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. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

The Relative Comparison of Suffering and Glory

To understand Paul’s shocking statement in verse 18, it must be seen in the light of the truth of verse 16-17.

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 with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

This is not ‘pick and choose’ Christianity. Paul’s advocating an ‘all or nothing’ type faith.

Don’t treat Jesus like a ‘pick a prize’ game show where wealth, health and happiness are on the board. Paul says you can be assured of your position as a child of God provided that you are willing to align yourself with everything about Jesus, not only the glory bits, but the gory bits as well.

It is this last statement that Paul now needs to defend. Paul wants us to understand that suffering as a Christian is normal.

John 15:18, 20
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you… Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.

Acts 14:21-22
When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

What Paul wants us to understand about suffering however, is that suffering shouldn’t be seen in a temporal earthly light, but instead in the divine light of eternal glory.

While it baffles our minds – somehow, earthly suffering and eternal glory are topics that can be spoken about in the same breath. We just need to understand how we can do that Biblically.

Present Realities and Heavenly Hope

Don’t let present realities drown your expectations of heavenly hope.

Don’t let your expectations of heavenly hope produce naivety about present realities.

Both of these cautions should echo in our ears all through our journey as a Christian – and this is our journey – suffering now, glory then. But the difference between what happens ‘now’ and what happens ‘then’ is so vast, that Paul says they are not even worth comparing.

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 

The Present Reality of Suffering

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 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. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Suffering in our Waiting

There is a type of waiting that produces suffering. We know this is true. How many times have you said, even of something you feared happening, “I’d rather just get it over and done with!”.

The waiting can be painful. The enduring can be harsh. The ‘not yet’s’ of our life take their toll.

Suffering in Futility

So many circumstances of our life can be punctuated by, “What’s the point?”. The futility of existence can drive us to despair. As the Teacher in Ecclesiastes repeats over and over, life seems to be a ‘chasing after the wind’ – a vapor that appears but can never be grasped. Success, happiness, joy, wealth, fulfillment – all appear as a mirage on the horizon seemingly in reach, but always eluding capture.

Suffering under the Bondage of Corruption

“From dust to dust – and ashes to ashes”, is the sound of mournful tolling beside countless graves around the world. In this present age, we suffer the inevitable curse of death and decay. Since God first pronounced that the result of our rebellion would be death and corruption, nearly all advancement in science and healthcare have been an attempt to counteract what sin and the curse  inflict on us. We hopelessly grasp at life and youth. Our most breaking innovation turn to yesterday’s news. We are captive to time and death – and if you are not experiencing it’s grip personally, you are probably grieving its effect on the lives of those you love. Or worse, you are suffering both.

Suffering in our Groaning

Even on the days we can muster up the strength to put on a brave face – we can’t ignore the groan that resides within. Something in the inner most part of our being knows that life isn’t what it aught to be. Something is missing. Something was lost. And while their are millions of people around the world who are yet to hear that that lostness is due to separation from their Creator, even we as Christians share in their groaning.

As we watch the news, or read a news feed, sometimes the inaudible groan becomes a quiet cry on our lips. As we hear of injustice. As we see the weak and the dying. As we wonder at the depths of our own depravity when we hear of monsters that lurk in the suburbs luring our children away. When we see bombs go off in churches. As we wonder about the world our children will grow up in. We sometimes have nothing left but to suffer in our groaning.

The Future Hope of Heavenly Glory

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 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. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Future Glory

An incomparable glory awaits the Children of God. And no matter my oratory skill or literary ability, I cannot come close to doing justice to this future glory. Even Paul must borrow from Isaiah when describing the wonders that await.

1 Corinthians 2:9
But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him” (Isa 64:4)

Sons of God

Even though we cannot fully grasp this future glory, we know from these verses that it involves, in part, a full and complete revealing of the sons of God. Far better and more glorious than any ‘reveal’ we’ve seen on a ‘make-over’ show, the sons of God will be seen in the full light of heaven for what we really are – image bearers of God in the likeness of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Freedom

In the place of bondage and captivity, our future glory will bring us freedom and liberty. The bondage of corruption and decay will be replaced with the liberty of life as a child of the Most High.

Full Adoption

Like an hopeful child sitting in an orphanage, knowing the papers have been signed, the legalities arranged, we will see our Father come to collect us and know that we truly are His child. What is true on paper now – will become a real and tangible reality as we are caught up into the all conquering arms of our Father and our God.

Physical Redemption

Hear it in the words of Scripture:

1 John 3:2
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

1 Corinthians 15:49-53
Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.

Don’t Wait in Despair – Eagerly Wait in Hopeful Anticipation

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 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. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Present suffering and future glory are not worth comparing. The latter so exceeds the former that it can scarcely been comprehended. So endure hardship now with patient and eager waiting. Glory is coming! Redemption is coming! Liberty is coming! Christ is coming!

Hope is here!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s