For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18
There is no question about it, the apostle Paul suffered in his lifetime. I think it is safe to say he suffered more than any other minister of the gospel throughout all of history. He lists some of the things he suffered in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28. He said:
- labors more abundant
- stripes above measure
- in prisons more frequently
- in deaths often
- From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one
- Three times I was beaten with rods
- once I was stoned
- three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep
- in journeys often
- in perils of waters
- in perils of robbers
- in perils of my own countrymen
- in perils of the Gentiles
- in perils in the city
- in perils in the wilderness
- in perils in the sea
- in perils among false brethren
- in weariness and toil
- in sleeplessness often
- in hunger and thirst
- in fastings often
- in cold and nakedness
- besides the other things that come upon me daily
That’s quite a list and there were even more that he didn’t list here. I’m sure most of us would have to admit that we have never suffered like the apostle Paul did. If I’m being honest, my biggest complaints would consist of: I had to go to work everyday, sometimes I didn’t have air conditioning, I missed lunch, breakfast or snack once. I couldn’t watch my favorite television episode. Someone didn’t like my post on facebook. How ridiculous is that? Yet some would consider the things they complain about as suffering?
Paul’s sufferings were real, yet in today’s key verse, he says they cannot compare with the glory that is coming. He was not focused on his current circumstances. Paul had come to realize that circumstances and situations change, but the things he accomplished for God were eternal. He knew that when he finished his time in the world, there was glory and crowns waiting for him.
You may say: That’s great for Paul, but how does that relate to my life today? First of all, the glory that Paul was looking to was not a result of his suffering, it was the result of his completing the call on his life. Paul listened and followed the leading of the Holy Spirit in his life and he determined to complete each mission regardless of the opposition around him. Everywhere he went, he pretty much knew there was going to be some discomfort involved, but he didn’t let that deter him from his assignment.
Thankfully, we will never have to suffer like the apostle Paul did, but we can expect the glory that will be revealed as we compete our assignments. The key is determining that no matter what comes against you, you are going to follow the leading of God’s Spirit to complete the mission He has for you. We are laboring for the hope that is planted on the inside and now we eagerly wait for it by working with perseverance until the mission is completed. (vs. 25)
Today I want to encourage you to look to the glory that will be revealed in you, not because you suffer, but because you obey. Yes, the glory is in eternity, but there is also glory here in the world in what you accomplish. As you follow each step the Spirit of God leads, that glory is revealed in knowing that you are doing what you were born to do in this world. There is no greater earthly fulfilment than when you are doing what you were created to do. Seek that out today and begin to have God’s glory revealed in your life right here and now.
Today’s scripture reading: Romans 8:18-25