Saturday, November 5, 2016

Now and Then

"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

         This verse takes it for granted we will all endure some suffering in this life, and I don’t think any of us would disagree. There is nothing meritorious per se about suffering; but according to Philippians 3:10, it does qualify one for admission into a special club: “the fellowship of his [Jesus Christ’s] sufferings.” Not only that, Peter tells us it serves to “stablish, strengthen, and settle [us] (1Pet. 5:10). That couldn’t be too bad, could it?

         Still, these and other benefits do not readily come to mind while one is in the throes of an especially long and/or hard trial. In Paul’s case, his means of perspective was the little word “reckon.” He uses the same word in chapter six to give us a handle on achieving victory in our lives by reckoning ourselves to be dead to sin and alive to God (6:11).

         One of the meanings for the word “reckon,” as found in the Oxford English Dictionary, is “to calculate, or keep count of, in relation to some starting point or base.” In other words, suffering must be judged against, or in relation to, something else. And Paul lets us know just what that something else is: “the glory that shall be revealed in us.” I’m not sure all that this entails, but I do know from the previous verse that it has to do with our being “joint-heirs with Christ,” and assumes we will share and share-alike with Him. If so, then in this case, the end truly does justify the means.

         I share these observations with you not to minimize any suffering you may be experiencing now, or will experience in the future, but simply to sharpen your “reckoner.” If anything, we women should understand this concept even better than men, since the prospect of finally seeing and holding in our hands the life that grew under our hearts is the overriding thought that gets us through the pain of childbirth. That’s exactly the principle Paul is trying to teach us.

          It’s not about the suffering now; it’s all about the glory then.

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