Thought for Thursday

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

As I sat chatting with our grandchildren during the required 15 minute wait at the clinic after we received our Covid shots, I remarked that they did not seem to be much bothered by the needles they received. They merely shrugged their little shoulders; no big deal. They hardly felt the needle, they told me. At their ages – ten and eight – they had little thought about how much suffering those Covid shots might spare them from; the visit to the clinic was just a minor adventure during their winter day. How much different was the ordeal the apostle Paul was referring to as he wrote to encourage the 

Christians in Rome in today’s text.

At the time of Paul’s writing, the Roman saints were in dire and dangerous circumstances. The authorities hunted and harassed them unmercifully and many had already been slaughtered. As the numbers of believers grew with the rapid spread of the Gospel in that great city, the intensity of the persecution grew as well. The believers there knew firsthand what Paul was referring to when he spoke of ‘the sufferings of this present time’. No stranger to suffering and persecution himself, Paul could understand fully what those saints were enduring. And yet, he could redirect their attention away from all that suffering to something vastly more profound as he placed their situation into an eternal perspective.

Because Paul was writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he was not writing only to the saints in Rome; he was writing also to saints in all of the two thousand years since then. He was writing to saints during those millennia who have endured suffering even worse than that of the Romans, and to saints like us who know little or nothing of such suffering. To all of us, our text redirects our attention to the eternal perspective. Paul does not describe ‘the glory which shall be revealed in us’, because he cannot. Language lacks the ability to define such glory. We can only take from these words the wondrous reality of our coming eternal entrance into that which causes any suffering here in time to fade into nothingness.

Our God will soon reveal His glory in us. If we allow it, this precious thought will carry us through any suffering we might encounter in this present time. -Jim MacIntosh

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