From Suffering to Glory
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. 24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
God has promised that our pain and suffering that we have here on this earth will be ended at a time in the future. That means that suffering wasn’t always on this planet. That’s absolutely true – when God created this world, by His own standard of perfection, it was very good (Genesis 1:31). Suffering came into the world as a product of Adam’s sin against God by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God said that we would suffer, that we would have to toil in our work to eat and feed our families, and that the earth would produce thorns. Disease and insects came forth from this and they were told that they would now die because of it (Genesis 3). God wasn’t shocked that they have done this against Him – He knew it would happen before He spoke the first word that caused creation to leap into existence. What can we say then about this suffering that we’ve had to experience? God has been using pain and suffering for His own purposes – to teach us, to correct us, and to shape our lives. Some of my worst experiences in my life – losing friends and family, watching my wife waste away by a disease that cannot be healed or cured, going from financial freedom to oppressive debt due to medical bills – these experiences have produced the most growth in my walk with God. My perspective is shifted and my view of this world has been replaced by a knowledge that God has said that there will be an end to the suffering that we now experience. God has given us the downpayment of this new body to come in the form of the Holy Spirit that lives inside our hearts and that allows our spirit to connect with the spirit fo God. He has promised that He will come and get us (1 Thess 4:13-18) and that we will be granted new bodies that will be immortal and pure (1 Corinthians 15:42-44,52-54). We will be unable to sin, forever connected with God, and cleansed from the curse which was pronounced onto creation in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). We will also be given a new heaven and a new earth – Jesus will replace the current creation with a fresh new one and we will live with God outside of time – literally living in eternity with Him (Revelation 21:1-3). All of creation now groans for these things that are to come. The whole earth and all that is contained therein longs for the perfection that we know that we belong to but are not able to obtain. As King Solomon said, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We know that there is more to all of this and God has placed within us the promise of His future plan for us in the Holy Spirit, through whom we are able to communicate with Him. That down payment on eternity which was the catalyst that caused the transformation in our lives when we asked God to save us from ourselves and our sins is the One whom takes our prayers that we say, whether verbal or spiritual, and translates that into something that God can understand. If you’ve ever been in prayer and you just have something you want to convey to God but you can’t grasp the words, the Holy Spirit meets you there and takes your intentions and makes them known to God. It is through this same Holy Spirit that God speaks to us and to our hearts – instructing us (Isaiah 11:2), comforting us (John 14:16), and sealing us (Ephesians 1:13). God works all things out to help and to teach those whom He has called to salvation. It may appear that those in the world are getting more joy, peace, and happiness from what the world has to offer, but remember that those people often getting all that they will ever get because once they die, they will receive their just reward for their denial of God’s existence and refusal to repent and turn to Him. God’s plan for us is perfect in His time and in His judgment – He is the one who has chosen us and saved us. ALL the glory belongs to God alone.