Present Sufferings Versus Future Glory: Romans 8:18-39
“18) 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. 23) And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 29) For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;” Romans‬ ‭8:18, 23, 29‬ ‭
There is a significant interplay taking place within this context that is often missed with a casual reading. It is the comparison of “this present suffering” with the coming “redemption of the body.” This present age is marked by a fallen world and the accompanying suffering that goes with it. We endure everything from disease and sickness to human wars and natural disasters. The god of this present world is bent on pain, misery and suffering.
This age started with the fall of Adam and Eve and is still with us to this day. Notice that humanity is staged as a focus of this struggle and all of creation is affected by it. There is something so significant about humanity that the cosmic forces of light and darkness are locked in a fierce battle for every human soul in this present age.
But Paul talked about a major shift in verse 19 when he mentioned “the revealing of the sons of God?” This age is about to give way to something very different. He hinted at it again in verse 21 when he talked about “the freedom of the glory of the children of God?” Notice in verse 23 that it has something to do with our adoption as sons and the redemption of our body. He comes back to it again in verse 29 when he alluded to being “predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son?”
As he wrote these verses, he was weaving numerous thoughts together that put the gospel at the cutting edge of future events. What is about to happen to Christians will change the very fabric of reality itself and deal a fatal blow to the kingdom of darkness.
I believe he was looking forward to events described in 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 when Christians put on new and glorified bodies fashioned after the resurrected body of Christ. (See 1 John 3:1-2) These perishable bodies will become imperishable and mortality will be swallowed up by immortality. According to the Apostle, The glories awaiting us are unimaginable. The change will be so dramatic and significant that it will affect the entire created realm according to Romans 8:20-21.
Forgive my rambling, but no human to date has undergone this change. It will happen to all believers from every age at the same time at some point in the future. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 sheds light on this coming mystery. (See also Hebrews 11:39-40) In a moment, at the twinkling of an eye, all believers will suddenly be transformed into new and glorified bodies that will make Hollywood’s superhero’s and mutants look dismal. I can only imagine!
In the meanwhile, we are living in the realities of Romans 8:26-39. The Holy Spirit is helping our weakness in this fallen world. Jesus Himself is next to the Father interceding for us. God is actively causing all things to work together for our good. He is preparing us for His future plan. He is for us and not against even though we struggle with frailty, sin and failure. As His children, we are wrapped in His love so tight that nothing the enemy can throw at us can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (See Romans 8:31-39)
Paul recognized only to well how difficult the sufferings of this present life in frail human bodies could be, but he took courage in the fact that something much more glorious was coming. As the full context of Romans 8 is unpacked, it pushes speculation to the limits. It is vital that every Christian embrace a view of reality that far surpasses their mundane daily life. God is doing something very big and every Christian is part of it.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global.