Wednesday, July 21, 2010


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

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish [trash], that I may gain Christ…
Philippians 3:7-8

Oftentimes I pray and ask God for perspective. That might seem like an odd thing to pray for, but a person’s perspective on a situation can make all the difference. I’ve noticed that it’s easy for me to lose perspective. I start looking at all the hard things about my life like: 
  • the fact that my hair always sticks up a little bit in the back
  • I don’t have enough money to do everything I want
  • the guy in the car in front of me didn’t go quick enough so now I have to wait through another red light
  • they forgot to take the pickles off of my burger and now the entire burger has been tainted with pickle juice!
 …and I completely lose perspective about just how blessed I am. I forget that God has raised me with Christ and seated me with Him in the heavenly realms and has blessed me with every spiritual blessing available (Ephesians 1:6 and 2:3). I forget the precious promises of hope and a bright future that God has given me, and I get focused on the pain in my life. Sometimes that pain is in reality somewhat comical (like getting upset about pickles on my burger) and sometimes that pain is true suffering (like the last time I saw my grandmother before she passed away... lying in a bed in a nursing home, her muscles rigid and unable to move, almost completely unaware of her surroundings because of Alzheimer’s).

But whether my suffering is comical or truly painful, Romans 8:18 says that it is not even worth comparing to the future glory that waits for me. And Philippians 3:7-8 says that all of my loss and pain pales in comparison to the fact that I get to know Jesus now in the present. It’s easy for us to realize that we have lost perspective when we throw a temper tantrum in the middle of Burger King. But when we’re facing real pain, when we lose our joy because we are battling cancer or because our spouse is, then it’s not so easy for us to see. It is real pain that Paul is talking about in Romans 8 though, and he says that not even the most painful suffering is worth being mentioned in the same sentence as the future glory that God has promised to us. They are so immensely different that there isn’t a unit of measurement that would allow them to be compared. It would be as impossible to compare them as it would be to compare the weight of the world to the weight of a word on your lips.

That doesn’t mean that suffering isn’t painful. It doesn’t mean that we have to smile all the time. It just means that nothing can take our joy away. In everything we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:36-38). If we battle cancer and the threat of death, then we are more than conquerors because we know that even if we die we will be raised. If we are watching our Christian spouse battle cancer and the threat of death, then we are more than conquerors because we know that even if they die they too will be raised and we know that their suffering is only momentary when considered in light of all of eternity. And if we are persecuted for our faith, even to the point of death, then we know that we will be vindicated at the last day and that they may take our life but they cannot separate us from the love of Christ or the hope that is set before us. 

Knowing God and His promises for us changes our perspective on everything! It gives us the proper perspective on all our pain and all the suffering in this world. We don’t ignore the pain that surrounds us, and we don’t act like it doesn’t matter. But we view it always in light of the bright future that God has promised us and in light of the rich blessings that He has already given us. Already in the present God has given us the blessing of knowing Him and being known by Him. And already we have fellowship with Him because He has placed His Spirit inside of us.

This world is our Calvary. It is in this world that we share in the sufferings of Christ so that we may also share in His glory in the world to come. As Christians, this world is as close to Hell as we’ll ever be. So in light of our future glory (Romans 8:18) and in light of our present joy in having known God (Philippians 3:7-8) our suffering in this world is really rather insignificant. It isn’t worth comparing to the surpassing greatness and joy that we possess now in our fellowship with the Spirit or the hope that we have because of the promises He has given us for our future inheritance.

For further reading this week...
    - Lamentations (esp. 3:21-26): Check out the entire book of Lamentations. It is a
      lament written about the fall of Jerusalem during its destruction by the
      Babylonians in 587 B.C. Pay special attention to the perspective that the author
      finds in 3:21-26. The fact that God is in control during times of suffering causes
      many of us to question His goodness, but the author of Lamentations finds
      comfort in the fact the His Lord is still in control.

1 comment:

Julie said...

Lance, thank you for the encouragement and challenge. It is so true that perspective sometimes gets warped! Thank God for His perspective on us, huh?