I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 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.
If anyone knew about suffering, it was the apostle Paul. For example, in 2 Corinthians 11:23-29, he listed twenty ways in which he had suffered—all after he came to faith in Jesus! So when we suffer, it should come as no surprise to us. And Paul’s words here in Romans put our suffering into perspective, through comparison with the glory that awaits us, and by means of three images.
In Romans 8:21, he uses the image of liberation from bondage to freedom. I think immediately of God’s deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt. Just as God delivered his people as he promised, just as creation itself will one day be made new, so God will one day deliver his saints from suffering to glory.
In verse 22, Paul uses the image of childbirth. Perhaps only birthmothers can fully appreciate this metaphor, but we can all understand the pains of labor being forgotten for the joy of seeing and holding a newborn baby. So too our sufferings will one day be forgotten in the joy of seeing our Savior face to face.
In verse 23, Paul uses the image of adoption. Again, perhaps only those who have adopted or been adopted can fully resound with this longing, but surely we can all understand how the waiting and setbacks of the adoption process fade away when it is completed, and the bond is sealed. In the same way, as we suffer through this life, we do so in the knowledge that God who did not spare his own son will one day personally embrace all his chosen, glorified children.
Finally, Paul states up front that the sufferings we endure in this life are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us. Our suffering is a result of human sin, but our glory is a result of God’s grace. Our suffering lasts for a short time, but our glory will be everlasting. Our suffering—even at its worst— can kill only our physical body, while our glory will be of body, soul, and spirit.
All this happens only because of our blessed Savior, “who for the joy set before him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2), considering the suffering of the cross not worthy to be compared with the eternal joy of fellowship with the Father and with all of his redeemed children. Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Note: Each day’s devotional is written by a different member of the GRC family.