I’ll be upfront with you: I don’t want to write about this. I’m not feeling it. I’m struggling to believe this particular truth, so as you read this, know that I need this too.
At this moment I am battling with the pain and suffering that I experience on a daily basis. I constantly feel pain in certain areas of my body, which is hard to explain and even harder to want to talk about.
Each morning I wake up, I am in pain. Something hurts. I’ll sit on the side of the bed and motivate myself to push through it. This is partly why I loathe going to bed: I know that after a rough night of sleep and I’ll wake up and the pain will be there. It’s happened this way for four years straight.
You may have a similar experience to mine or maybe not, but we all wake up knowing that at some point and time we’ll experience suffering. The question for all of us is not if we will experience pain and suffering but rather when will we experience it. And by the way, this is not a cynical perspective, this is a realistic view of life and all the hardships that come our way.
The verse I want to reflect on acknowledges our current pain while also providing a perspective of forever hope.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.
If you look at how the verse starts, it assumes that suffering happens – “the sufferings of this present time.” The Apostle Paul is not saying that it’s odd to suffer or that you should be surprised by it. He’s saying that suffering is a part of life as we live in this broken world.
Maybe you’ve been through the wringer already. You were in distress and felt like a complete mess. Something happened or you heard some news that crushed you, made your heart sink. You felt it. You remember it.
Or maybe you’re in it right now. You’re currently in pain. You’re in the thick of it. You are hurting and it appears to have no end in sight. I feel it right now as you read this.
But maybe you haven’t experienced deep suffering up to this point in your life. Life seems to be going according to plan. Nothing major has come your way that you would consider “deep pain and suffering.” First of all, praise God for the blessing of seasons of ease! But just know, that won’t be around forever.
“If you live long enough, you’ll bleed. Your strength someday will fail you.“
– Matt Chandler
After Paul says that we all have current pain, he says that our suffering is “not worth comparing” to what’s promised to God’s saved people. He’s not saying our pain doesn’t matter or that it’s not that painful. He’s saying that there’s a promise that puts our pain into an eternal perspective.
As we cry, mourn, ache, and groan in this life we know that it is temporary. Life is short, so as painful as things might get, our suffering is also short. And yes, it doesn’t always feel short, but Paul help provide peace to our hearts when he says “not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.“
To know why this comparison provides peace, we have to answer this question: What is the “glory?”
To those whom God has saved, there are two aspects of the glory to come that we rejoice about: our bodily resurrection (1 Thess 4:13-18) and the new heaven and earth (Rev 21). This glory that makes our current pain look insignificant, is that God has promised eternal life with our God in a perfect, sinless, painless new earth.
Eternity with our Creator, Sustainer, Provider, Father, and Savior in a redeemed creation of no more death, mourning, crying, pain, and sin. All we could ever need and want makes our current pain and suffering incomparable.
I currently wake up in pain, but one day it won’t be so. One day I will wake up in glory. If I am given another day on Earth, I will probably wake up physically feeling the brokenness of the world. And that’s okay with me because I have a forever hope.
This forever hope is given to those who have trusted in the God-man, Jesus Christ. He fulfilled prophecy by being the Suffering Servant: without sin, rejected, denied, and put to death. He resurrected from the grave as the final statement of his power to defeat death mourning, pain, and our sin. He secured the future glory for his people.
Trust in Jesus, the only One who gives true and everlasting hope. And if we trust in Christ alone, we will one day see the glory that makes our pain look infinitesimal.