Have you ever re-visited somewhere you went as a child and looked at it with an adult’s perspective? Thought ‘this doesn’t seem as big as I remember it’. Or ‘that person doesn’t seem as tall as I remember them?’ All that has really happened is that your perspective has changed. The person or room or place may not have changed at all, but you have. In the intervening years, you’ve grown and so things look different.

Last night we resumed our Bible studies in Romans 8, looking particularly at verse 18:
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

The topic of suffering is one that has occupied minds for centuries, with countless books written on the topic. It will always remain a mystery. We don’t fully understand why God allowed sin into the world; we don’t understand how He can bring good from situations which are so awful; we stand silent as we see suffering all around us, and especially suffering that is a direct result of an allegiance to Christ. We remember Christ’s words “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20) and we try to fathom Paul’s teaching about ‘sharing in Christ’s sufferings’ (Rom 8:17, Phil 3:10), but so often, we are left confused, dazed and hurt from suffering.

Paul does not attempt to explain suffering. He does, however, tell us that our present suffering is not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (see also 2 Cor 4:17-18). He does assure us that God is able to bring good from every single thing that happens to us in our lives (Rom 8:28). He assures us that God has a great purpose for our lives – making us into the image of His Son (Rom 8:29) – and that the future is far greater than our finite minds can imagine.

It’s all a question of perspective. It’s the 1p compared to £20 analogy again. It’s like trying to imagine what we would do if we actually won the Lottery (difficult to imagine when you don’t even play it!) Paul talks about hope a lot in this passage and basically there is always that sense of ‘not yet’ with hope: “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Rom 8:24-25)

We need an adult’s perspective on suffering. We don’t need to feel overwhelmed by it, like the child in the room that seems so big. Instead, we need to understand that in the grand scheme of God’s plans, our suffering will one day fade into insignificance and we will fall in awe and wonder before our Lord and Saviour. As Jeremy Camp sings, “And the beauty that’s in store outweighs the hurts of life’s stings” (‘There Will Be A Day’).

In the light of this, let’s hold on and keep our perspective, looking to Jesus who for the joy that was before Him endured the cross (Heb 12:2).