Romans 8:18 (ESV)
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
As you read this, some of you have joints that are screaming from rheumatoid arthritis. Some of you are miserable from chemotherapy. Some of you have back pain so severe you can only stand, sit, or sleep for short periods of time. Some of you get frequent headaches so massive that any kind of light or sound is a torture. Some of you are reeling from multiple surgeries, barely recovering from one when doctors tell you to get ready for another. And some of you possess one of a thousand other maladies—physical or emotional. What they all have in common is that they all define what it is to suffer.
It’s often when our suffering is at its worst that the devil walks in, ready to attack our faith. Many times his weapon of choice is the comparison. He points out other people similar to us in age and circumstance. He comments that they don’t seem to have anything near the suffering and pain that we have. And with that, he lets our sinful nature do the rest. He lets our sinful nature drag us away into the dungeon of self-pity.
But the Lord of your life has something to say about this. He speaks though the apostle Paul. Paul, as you may know, is someone who knew all about severe suffering. He grappled with a terrible problem that appeared to plague him until he died. Instead of comparing himself to others who did not have to suffer as he did, Paul made the comparison that really matters. He said, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
What is the specific reason why the Lord is allowing us to suffer? That is not for us to say. Perhaps it is to nurture within us our faith. Perhaps it is to give others around us a living, breathing sermon on Christian courage. Perhaps it is to bring us into contact with a lost soul the Lord will save through our witness. Perhaps it’s for an entirely different reason.
Never forget, however, the comparison that matters. Your temporary suffering is a droplet in comparison to the oceans of joy that await you in heaven. That’s why Jesus came. That’s why he suffered and died for your sins. That’s why he rose. That’s why he lives!
Dear Lord, stand beside us in our suffering. Strengthen us by your Spirit. Remind us that the pain is temporary and that the joy of heaven is eternal. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.