My current preaching series in Romans 8 has led me to examine the theme of Christians and their suffering. Suffering for a believer is radically different than the suffering of those who are not “in Christ,” and we see this difference in three important ways:
- When believers suffer, they suffer “with Christ” (Romans 8:17). This doesn’t mean only that Christ is present in our suffering: it means also that Christ transforms our suffering into something meaningful and full of purpose.
- When believers suffer, they suffer temporarily. The transitory nature of our suffering finds expression here in the words “this present time” (8:18) as well as in 2 Corinthians 4:17 (“this momentary light affliction”). Our fleeting suffering stands in contrast with the tragic suffering of those who persist in unbelief, whose suffering will be forever.
- When believers suffer, their suffering is the path to glory. This is the theme that Paul takes up in 8:18-30, in which he weighs “the suffering of this present time” against the eternal weight of glory—a glory so immense that the creation, the Spirit, and we ourselves groan for it to be consummated. In light of this magnificent glory, we may, with Paul, “consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (8:18).
As I study and preach through this section of Scripture, I marvel at how timely and relevant God’s Word is—not only for my church but also for me personally. Whether intense or mild, our suffering can prompt us to wonder, “Is this really worth it? Why would God allow this?” This passage is like a bugle call to hope and assurance.
Yes, God lovingly orchestrates our suffering for our good!
Yes, it is so “worth it” that present suffering doesn’t even register on the scales.
Yes, infinite, pain-eclipsing joy awaits us when we are finally conformed to the image of his Son.
You can find a recording of the sermon I preached on this passage here.