Suffering Now—Glory Later!
The eighth chapter of Romans is one of the most precious portions of God's Holy Word. Beginning with the glorious truth that “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” and closing with the wonderful assurance that nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” this entire chapter is designed to give encouragement to every believer as we await the return of our Savior and the “redemption of our body.”
Early in their Christian experience, most believers learn to rest upon Romans 8:28 where God says, “And we KNOW that ALL THINGS work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” The problem is that when we find ourselves in situations of extreme stress and difficulty, all too often we either forget this promise or we misquote it by saying, “Well, all things work together for good—I GUESS.” But God says that we KNOW all things work together for good. There IS a difference between guessing and knowing. When we KNOW that even the most difficult things—the things we cannot understand— “work together for good,” our attitude changes from one of complaining and questioning to one of trusting and praising.
But there is another verse in this splendid chapter that has been much upon my heart recently as I observe that many of God's faithful children are undergoing the most severe trials and testings of their entire lives. God tells us in Romans 8:18, “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.” What a blessing! What a comfort! Even the most severe sufferings of the present do not begin to compare with the future glory which will be ours in Jesus Christ. This truth is further amplified in 2 Corinthians 4:17 where God says, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” Viewed from God's perspective, the severe trial you are going through right now—the one which seems so heavy and long-standing—is light and momentary when measured by the “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
Of course, we know that God sometimes uses suffering as a means of chastening and correcting His own dear children. Our hearts must ever be open and humbled to hear and heed the Word as God's Spirit enables us to realize that while “no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous,” we can be sure that “afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” Hebrews 12:5-11.
Believers must also realize, however, that God sometimes permits continued suffering (as He did with the apostle Paul’s thorn in the flesh) to help us learn the important lesson that God's strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). At other times (as in the case of Job), God may permit His children to suffer in order to shut the mouth of Satan, the false accuser who tries to make it appear that our love for God is based on “things” rather than on the riches of His grace which will be manifest to His own now and throughout eternity.
Let us all remember that God says, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). Furthermore, God says to his suffering, obedient children, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12-13).
As biblical fundamentalists—those who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb and who desire to walk with God and live for Him in this present evil world—let us never forget that praise and rejoicing in the MIDST of suffering brings glory to God and is one of the strongest testimonies possible to an unbelieving world! Let us not forget that “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him” (2 Timothy 2:12).
Yes, God has said there would be hardship, but also sustaining grace. SUFFERING NOW—BUT GREAT GLORY LATER!
—Pastor M. H. Reynolds Jr. (1919-1997)