“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18.
Romans chapter 8 is a wonderful chapter. Dwight L. Moody used to say he’d rather live in the 8th chapter of Romans than in the Garden of Eden. The serpent got in the garden, he would point out, but Romans 8 begins with “no condemnation” in verse 1 and ends with “no separation” in verse 39. Let’s look at a particular verse and try to memorize it for this day of uncertainty—Romans 8:18.
Something is desperately wrong in this world! Sickness, war, hate, riots, sorrow, disease and confusion fill our age. Man longs for a better day, but this period of time has become one of chaos and turmoil. Paul uses his familiar expression, “I reckon,” to introduce a most heartening and blessed thought in Romans 8:18. He says, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” I would like you read that verse out loud, three times?
I read the story of the only survivor of a shipwreck who was washed up on a small uninhabited island. He cried out to God to save him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a rough hut and put his few possessions in it. But one day, after hunting for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; he was stung with grief. Early the next day, though, a ship drew near the island and rescued him. “How did you know I was here?” he asked the crew. “We saw your smoke signal,” they replied. Though it may not seem so now, your present difficulty, whatever you are facing, may be instrumental to your future happiness. When Paul wrote about suffering, he could write out of experience, for certainly few, if any, have ever suffered greater—either physically or emotionally and mentally—than this brave man who gave so much and received so little as far as the things of time are concerned.
He lived in perils constantly, such as perils from his own countrymen, from false brethren, and from the forces of nature. (2 Corinthians 11:26). He suffered a continual and persistent thorn in the flesh, which the Scripture describes as the messenger of Satan to buffet him. His bodily presence was described as “weak” and his speech “contemptible.” He faced Satanic opposition on a scale which few men have ever encountered. But he did not brood over the sufferings which came to him and he does not give us excuse for brooding over ours. He states, with sunny faith and optimism, “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
Paul’s words certainly have a bearing upon our time. Men about us are unable to understand—that is, they cannot understand apart from faith—how to reconcile the pain and misery the world with a God who is loving and mighty. Ours is an age sensitive to pain—an age which seems to feel that pain is inconsistent with the love of God. Some scholars have said that the Christianity must be rejected because the God of nature is not the God of infinite love which the Gospel presents to us. Well, Paul would be the last to deny pain and suffering. In fact, he presents it as an absolutely indisputable, inevitable fact. But he does not attribute pain and evil to the Maker of the world. He charges it to the sin and the depravity of man.
As F. F. Bruce wrote, “The doctrine of the cosmic fall is implicit. In the Biblical record, from Genesis to Revelation, man is part of nature, and the whole nature, of which he forms a part, was created good but has been subjected to frustration and futility by sin, and will ultimately be redeemed. The Christian will neither hold that at present ‘all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds,’ nor will he write the world off as belonging to the devil. The world is God’s and God will yet be glorified by all His works. The grace of God has already begin to took it he lives of the justified. Its continued working is sufficiently evidenced but he indwelling of the Spirit and it is the same grace which on ‘the day of Jesus Christ’ will bring to completion the divine work so well begun. This is the hope of the people of God. This hope enables them to accept the trials of the present so that by patient endurance they may win their loved ones. It is, along with faith and love, one of the crowning graces which are the distinguishing marks of the Christian.”
Paul says in Romans 8:22, “We know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” And this man Paul, who knew the whole world’s anguish, nevertheless declares throughout the whole epistle that God is love. Today “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain” under the curse, and we groan as part of it. But this is not the end of the story! Paul doesn’t deny our sufferings; he faced them all and assures us: “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory, which shall be revealed in us…And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:18, 28). He concluded “in all these things we are more than conquerors.” (v. 37) The groans we endure are temporary. The glory we expect is eternal.
The world is a problem and a mystery, and not a very simple one. There is both justice and injustice, pain and joy, agony and love, and we have to account for all of the facts. How shall they be reconciled and what shall we say—that God is working out a glory in comparison with which the sorrows of this present are not worthy to be compared? Or shall we say that He is what someone has called, “infinite indifference,” who has created the world, wound it up and set it going and cares little about what happens to it or to man who inhabits it.
The world is full of beauty and joy but full of suffering and pain. It is the spirit in which we live and face what comes to us the counts. We may suffer in such a spirit of rebellion, such an angry feeling of helpless despair that it blights every part of our being. Or we may suffer so that even our darkest moments are times of victory, so that out of the pain and anguish come God’s beautiful gifts that can turn sorrow into joy.
Paul sets over against the sufferings the glory that is to be revealed. Admittedly, we do not now know very much about this glory. As we so often quote Paul, “Now we see through a glass darkly,” (1 Corinthians 13:12) and John--“It doth not yet appear what we shall be” (1 John 3:2). We do know however, that the glory that awaits us is the complete triumph over sin—not only over its power but from its very presence. Beyond that, the glory which awaits us in the glory of complete and perfect conformity to Christ, entering into the fullness of His strength and beauty, His freedom and eternity, claiming in the fullest sense that which is indicated by Paul’s expression, “we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.”
Warren Wiersbe wrote, “Our values determine our evaluations. If we value comfort more than character, then trials will upset us. If we value the material and physical more than the spiritual, we will not be able to count it all joy! If we live only for the present and forget about the future, the trials will make us bitter, not better.”
Suffering often shocks the Christian and non-Christian. Our culture tells us we can find happiness in the world. But experience and this passage teaches this world brings futility, corruption, and pain. It teaches us not to hope in this world, but in the one to come. This life is not without hope when we believe in Christ because we are promised a day when sin and death will be no more. And this is a truth we should take with us always and of which we should never lose sight. The unfathomable blessedness of being altogether one with God, sharing His glory eternally will most certainly prove as the old song says, that “it will be worth it all, when we see Jesus.”
So…dear friend—“We don’t know about tomorrow, but we know who holds our hand.”
Recite it again--“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18.