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Joyful Anticipation

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18 NIV

The Apostle Paul was no stranger to suffering. The book of Acts chronicled his transformation from persecutor to sufferer. He experienced multiple arrests, interrogations, beatings, and imprisonment and was shipwrecked three times. In addition, he was perplexed by an unknown ailment he refers to as a "thorn in my flesh" (2 Cor 12:7). Despite these many unfortunate events; he says they're nothing compared to the glory of what lies ahead.

Here is how theologian and author Eugene Peterson interprets this verse in The Message.

That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

We may never experience what Paul experienced today–but we have all shared suffering. We have suffered from illness, injustice, and losses of all kinds. Our sufferings aren't any less, just different. But what is the same is that joyful anticipation that awaits. That day when all things, all God's creation, and creatures, are reunited in the glory of the new Eden.

For those who don't know Christ, suffering is scary, and what is coming next is even more so. But in embracing Christ, we have solace in knowing these terrible sufferings are but momentary compared to the eternal glory that awaits, the joy of being united with our Christ in heaven, a time when "'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev 21:4)

Gracious and loving Father, thank you for the promise of the future. We confess we don't enjoy our suffering; it is not something we voluntarily seek, but we recognize it's a part of our life. We thank you for being with us in these trials; we don't face them alone. But what we experience now, these present challenging times, pale compared to the joy ahead. That glorious day when all things are revealed. Amen.


Pastor Tim

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