by Stacy Wood
It sure feels like the theme for 2020, doesn’t it? We may have suffered just a bit, sheltering in place and wearing a mask. Perhaps we’ve suffered more, losing a job, distanced from loved ones. Or driven to our knees in despair, as many healthcare workers have described, watching patients struggle with this novel virus that we’ve never before seen the likes of. Hurricanes caused more suffering, and countless other stories of loss may cause us to question: what’s next?
In Romans 8, the Apostle Paul (who knew a thing or two about suffering, by the way) draws a very interesting comparison. He tells us “… what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.” Paul is challenging us to change our perspective. He doesn’t minimize our suffering, instead, he elevates our future glory.
Yes, the present is marked by suffering. But the future is marked by glory. No doubt, it’s easy to become mired in negativity about your present situation. But what if you were able to grow through it, rather than be destroyed by it? How can we do that? What’s the secret?
Simply put, we have hope. When we become followers of Christ, we are given hope in all things. We have the assurance of future glory with God. We wait eagerly for what is to come, and that hope gives us the strength to endure our circumstances. Jesus, the light of the world, was born so that we may have hope. As we celebrate his birth this Christmas, set aside suffering for a moment, and bask in the hope that he brings.
Romans 8:18-23 NIV
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[a] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.