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There's a great day coming!

Paul assures us in Romans 8 that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (v. 18).  He was no armchair theologian or speculative philosopher!  We don’t know everything that happened to Paul, but what we’re told in his other letters or by other NT writers is substantial (2 Corinthians 11:23-28; Acts 14:19-20, 27:13-24).  In the same way, we don’t know everything that happened to first century Christians (“our present sufferings”), but suffice it to say that essentially everything happened to them that could happen to someone.  Many believe Romans was written during the reign of Nero who did terrible unspeakable things to the saints.  So when Paul speaks of “our present sufferings,” it’s filled to the brim with meaning and significance.  

He then turns right around and assures us by the Spirit of God that these sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us.  He’s not minimizing or trivializing anyone’s suffering.  He's not discounting the reality of what happened to them and in them.  He's making a statement about something that is to occur in the future.  And his declaration is that what is on its way is so profoundly magnificent as to dwarf all of the pain and heartache that has gone before.  Like a grain of sand compared to the sea, like the planet earth compared to the universe, the troubles of the past are not worthy to be compared with our future glory. 

As Christians:

*      we know God is sovereign,

*      we know He loves us,

*      we know He can be trusted,

*      we know we have a future that is out of this world.

But what we don’t know is exactly why suffering occurs as it does.  We understand in a general sense that it is because of sin; we live in a world that is broken and we’re the ones who broke it.  The jagged edges and razor thin shards are everywhere.  But it is a big jump from acknowledging that in a general sort of way to specifically understanding why some get cut more deeply than others.

What Paul assures us in this text is that there is a day coming when suffering, pain, and anguish will not only yield to, but be clarified by glory.  There’s a day coming when there will be no hospices where our loved ones struggle through their final days, or oncology clinics where they receive prognoses of death.  They’ll be no more talk of tumor markers, or decisions about radiation versus chemotherapy.  Parkinsons, ALS and Alzheimers will be distant memories. They’ll be none of these because there'll be no sickness, disease, or death.  There will still be graveyards --- but they’ll all be empty, every one of them.  And every mausoleum, cemetery, tomb, crypt, and hole-in-the-ground where some body has been planted will be turned inside out like the pockets of a beggar.  They will stand united as one silent and sustained witnesses that it was there, right there, where death made its final stand and was completely and utterly annihilated by the Carpenter from Galilee. 

And just maybe we’ll walk our loved ones through those tombs one day, remembering what it was that brought us down into the ground.  We’ll speak of sickness, troubled times, and terrible suffering.  We’ll recount accidents, infirmities, and sudden mortality.  And none of it will belong in the same book, much less on the same page, with the glory that we’ll know because of Him who is the Resurrection and the Life.  There is a great day coming --- don't be afraid to believe it, embrace it, and build your life upon it.  For if you know the Christ, then you know this is not too good to be true, it is too good not to be true. 
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