“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.” – Romans 8:18-19 (NASB)
We considered briefly verse 18 of this passage yesterday. But truly, there’s so much more in the way of promises to rejoice in. The BIG promise is that whatever difficulty, whatever conflict, whatever treatment we receive in our present lives because we have boldly spoken and stood for Jesus Christ and God our Father, it will never ever compare to the reward of glory that we will receive. We’re assured all will be okay and all wrongs will be made right. Now, we have a hope that will not let us down and a promise that one day it’ll be revealed in us. We’ll have what’s far beyond the pain heaped on us in this life. The suffering therefore doesn’t knock us down. Who’s the source and cause of our suffering? Isn’t it other people who do not by faith believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord? But our glory comes from God and there’s no comparison. Our suffering is of this world and our glory is of heaven. Our suffering is short and temporary, our glory is forever. What we suffer is light while our glory is substantial. Our glory promises total perfection of our personhood.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, …” – James 1:2 (NASB)
This might not make sense to us. Let’s just be honest first. Trials, tests, difficulties and many things we would rather avoid still come into our lives mostly unannounced. They are uninvited and unwelcome but in today’s passage we are instructed by the Holy Spirit in the letter written by James, the half brother of Jesus, to consider their arrival joyfully. ‘Consider’ may also be translated ‘count’ or ‘evaluate’ which means a willful, purposeful, thoughtful, and conscious commitment to face them with and attitude of joy, and actually with all joy. We are not to split our emotion reaction to trials between a natural disgust and some joy. Only joy, all joy, just as Paul teaches in Philippians to ‘rejoice in the Lord.’ (Philippians 3:1) God brings such tests to prove—and increase—the strength and quality of our faith and to demonstrate its validity. Every trial in our life becomes a test of faith and is designed to strengthen our faith: if we fail the test by responding with a wrong attitude, that test then becomes a temptation, or a solicitation to evil. It’s best to trust God for all things, even the trials that test.
“For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:3 (NASB)
Our verse today follows two other very strong verses for a Christian’s life. The admonish us to fix our eyes on Jesus because He is the author and the perfecter of faith. He gives to us that faith and that faith is what saves us. Jesus did all things required in the Law without sin and was killed because of that. Jesus is the supreme example of willingness to suffer in obedience to God. He faced “hostility” and endured even the cruel cross. The same opposition is faced by all who follow Him. These words were written to encourage Christians when they are tempted to give up. Sometimes we may be tempted to think that it is not worth all the trouble involved in following close to the Lord Jesus. Then we should remember that Jesus came to earth to do his Father’s will and He encountered a lot of suffering. Believers’ pressures, exhaustion, and persecutions are as nothing compared to Christ’s. He endured it all for us, in order to receive the joy that was set before Him. We too are promised that same joy with Jesus in heaven. Let’s fix our eyes on Him today.