So why be a Christian when to be one brings a guarantee of suffering? Here is how Paul goes on:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
It is easy to read a verse like that and assume Paul is playing down our present sufferings: they are not that bad really. But that is not what he is saying. He isn’t saying that our sufferings now are not painful or debilitating. What he is saying is that the glory that the Christian will have one day is so good that it blows all our sufferings now out of the water.
I love this quote from the 19th century writer Octavius Winslow:
“One second of glory will extinguish a lifetime of suffering.”
One second of seeing the glory of God, seeing the glory of Jesus and that glory being transferred into us will be so mind blowing, so full of ecstasy, so utterly beyond anything that we have so far experienced that even the years of hardship and pain will be worth it. That’s Paul’s pattern of thinking: suffering is to be expected but glory makes it worthwhile.
In the meantime we groan as we long for that glory. In fact it is not just us that groan but the whole creation groans and the Spirit groans. That’s what we will look at in the last (much larger!) post tomorrow.