READING: Psalms 68-69, Romans 8:1-21
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.”
For most of us, it’s almost impossible to consider deeply the possibility of persecution for following Christ. We might talk about suffering, but we don’t know what genuine suffering for Jesus is like; in fact, “suffering” for some of us is going to church where the building is too hot or too cold. Paul, though, knew what genuine suffering was about. He had caused suffering for believers before he joined their band, and he had himself paid a price for following Christ. His description in 2 Corinthians 11 is, in fact, graphic and detailed: “Five times I received 39 lashes from Jews. Three times I was beaten with rods by the Romans. Once I was stoned by my enemies. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the open sea. On frequent journeys, I faced dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the open country, dangers on the sea, and dangers among false brothers; labor and hardship, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, cold, and lacking clothing” (2 Cor. 11:24-28).
Still, though, Paul kept the right perspective. His dangers and agonies were real, but the sufferings he faced were nothing compared to “the glory that is going to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18). That which was still to come would be so magnificent that the depth of the persecutions would seem minimal. The weight of the glory of eternity with Christ would far outweigh the weight of anything he faced in this world – and remembering that truth would help him face the pain of today.
At its core, the issue is whether we live for the temporary or the eternal. Consider how living for the eternal would change us . . . not worrying so much about getting “stuff” that doesn’t last . . . choosing obedience to God no matter the cost in this world . . . living to gain rewards to give back to Christ rather than to gain the world’s recognition . . . finding time daily to hear from and talk to our eternal God. In a surprising way, living for the eternal makes living in this world much more bearable. Pilgrims press through the battles of this life because they know they don’t belong here anyway.
- Evaluate the focus of your life today. Determine how many choices you make on the basis of eternity.
- Pray for someone you know who appears to be living only for this world.
PRAYER: “God, turn my attention to eternity today.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Psalms 70-71, Romans 8:22-39