19. The Incomparable Glory

Romans 8:18

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

If we can appreciate what Paul is saying in this text and get it fixed in our minds, we will find it able to change the way we look at life and the way we live—more than anything else we can imagine. It will provide two things at least.

1. Vision. Focusing on the promise of glory will give us a vision of life in its eternal context, which means we will begin to see life here as it really is. We have two problems at this point. First, we are limited by our concept of time. We think in terms of the “threescore years and ten” allotted to us, or at best the few years that led up to our earthly existence or the few years after it. We do not have a long view. Second, we are limited by our materialism. Our reference point is what we perceive through our senses, so we have the greatest possible difficulty thinking of “the spirit” and other intangibles. We need to be delivered from this bondage and awakened from our spiritual blindness.

In “The Weight of Glory,” C. S. Lewis addressed those who considered his talk about glory as only fantasy, the weaving of a spell. He replied by admitting that perhaps that is what he was trying to do. But he reminded his listeners that spells in fairy tales are of two kinds. Some induce enchantments. Others break them. “You and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred years.”

2. Endurance. “Breaking the spell” will give us the strength to endure whatever hardships, temptations, persecutions, or physical suffering it pleases God to send us. Suppose there were no glory. Suppose this life really were all there is. If that were the case, I for one would not endure anything, at least nothing I could avoid. And I would probably break down under the tribulations I could not avoid. But knowing that an eternal glory awaits, I will try to do what pleases God and hang on in spite of anything.

Paul writes, “I consider that,” meaning he has thought it through and concluded that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18). By using this phrase, he invites us to think it through also. If you are a Christian, I ask, “Isn’t what the apostle says in this verse true? Isn’t the glory to come worth anything you might be asked to this verse true? What is the hope that keeps you going? Is it a hope placed in things getting better in this life and world, or is it the gospel hope of the glory to come, the glory for which Christ saved you?

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