Romans 8:18 “For i consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (ESV)
How many of us have read Romans 8:17 and have wished Paul would have just left off the second half of the verse? ” 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 can be kind of a sucker punch right after you read about our adoption as sons, our intimate relationship with The Father, whom we can now call Abba, and our position with Christ as fellow heirs of the Kingdom. Blam!! Suffer with Christ! Suddenly all the scary verses rush into your mind, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! (Luke 6:22), “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matt. 5:11), “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23), “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” (John 15:18) “your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8) and on and on we could go. The Christian life involves suffering and even in one of the most glorious chapters of the entire Bible Paul does not shy away from this reality: “Provided we suffer with him in order that we will also be glorified with him”. Paul gives us a swift blow to the bread basket to keep us grounded in our current reality, a sinful broken world with pain and suffering, but he gives us relief.
“For i consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us”
Paul reminds us that there will be suffering for Christians here in this present time, but that suffering wont even be worth comparing to the glory that is coming. That’s hard to imagine for us who have to go through the suffering right now. I’ve been greatly influenced and encouraged by Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Texas, and he always does a great job fleshing this out a bit. Chandler gives a scenario saying that if we live 90 years and say 50 of those years are in pain and suffering, that can seem like an eternity. 50 years with pain, painful memories, loneliness, depression, anxiety, deformity, and whatever else seems unbearable. But for the believer living 5 billions years from now with the risen Christ, those 50 years of pain and suffering aren’t even worth comparing, with the glory you’ll be experiencing with Jesus for all of eternity, it’s such a small number it’s not even worth looking back on.
When I teach the bros I disciple about eternal perspective and Paul’s “untouchable” mentality (another Chandler term) I use the analogy of a measuring tape, not the stiff metal ones but the soft kind. I tell them the above scenario and I have them imagine a measuring tape that’s 5 billion years long. If a year is an inch on this measuring tape then to look back on just 50 of those inches out of 5 billion would take so long to just find that it wouldn’t be worth it. I really think this is what Paul is talking about in Romans 8:18, our present day afflictions are such a big deal to us today, but to look back on it after billions of years living in the new heavens and the new earth with Jesus Christ will not even be worth the time it takes to find those years on the time line. Most of the guys I’ve shared this with have been dumbfounded and extremely encouraged, as I was when I first heard it. Recently a Puerto Rican student I meet up gave me a very insightful and much welcome edition to the promise of Paul.
Edrick Alvarado, is studying to be a theoretical physicist here in Puerto Rico, he’s pretty sharp to say the least. One day during a discipleship meeting we were talking about this very topic and I was trying to sound smart so i gave the analogy of taking a water dropper of fresh water and dropping a single drop into the ocean, would it really change the pH of the sea? Well i guess technically but the amount is so minuscule it’s really not even worth looking into, you’d just say no, no it doesn’t change the pH of the ocean. I thought i was being pretty slick till he started talking about approximations. Approximations are used in calculus and i really have a fuzzy grasp on how this works but let me tell you what he told me. If 1/x and x=infinity the quotient will be incredibly small, a number like .0000000000000000001. In a case like that you’d simply make it 0.
So let’s look at it in terms of years, If the Christian in the analogy suffers for 50 years and then dies and lives with Christ in the new heavens and the new earth for eternity then the equation would be 50years/ infinity years = 0. The suffering is so small as we continue into eternity that it’s really not even worth comparing with the glory that is being revealed to you every moment. This is just in terms of approximations, not to mention seeing the glory of the Lord shinning around you, your new glorified body, the community of saints, experiencing the Kingdom of God, and on and on we can go, but then we also have the promise from Jesus through the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:9 that “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”. God is really really good! We can’t even imagine the things He has in store for us who love him (and remember that we only love Him because He first loved us!!!)
Paul’s “untouchable” mentality is the key to keeping an eternal perspective in the trials that we can be sure we will experience in our Christian’s lives. To borrow from Matt Chandler yet again, referring to Paul:
“You couldn’t touch him,
‘Well, we’ll kill you”
‘To die is gain’
‘We’ll leave you alone’
‘To live is Christ’
‘We’ll torture you’
‘Well I do not consider the sufferings of this world to be compared to the
‘We’ll put you in prison’
‘Well give me a hymnal, i’m going to convert all your guards and sing in
worship with them’
I don’t want to downplay suffering in this world or the suffering you will experience even today. I know Paul didn’t downplay suffering, that man was beaten, tortured, slandered, mocked and maligned just about everywhere he went. He knew suffering is a very real thing from personal experience, more than most of us will ever know. Yet from his pen comes the words,
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with he glory that is to be revealed to us” (ESV)
“For i consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (NIV)
“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later” (NLT)
“For i reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us” (King James)
“For is consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us’ (NET)
Remember that Christ our King is coming, he will wipe every tear from our eye, he will vindicate us, he will renew us, we will have the culmination of the promises found throughout the Old and New Testament standing in front of us. We will finally be with our savior, the one who became a curse in order to redeem his sheep, the Rock of our salvation, the Mighty Fortress in whom we take refuge, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Alpha and Omega, The Son of Man, the One whom history was written for, the Logos, The Mighty counselor Himself, Jesus the Son of the Living God who is indeed interceding on our behalf, we will be able to see him face to face, in that moment and for the rest of eternity, our suffering will not even be worth looking back on. Look to the Son.