Paul continues his celebration that we are sons and daughters of God and also heirs of God along with Jesus himself, provided that “we suffer with him in order that we also may be glorified with him” (Rom 8:17). Truly this is a time of suffering, grinding through a third month of raging virus, fear, and isolation from all we hold dear. Paul tells us there is an exceptionally good reason for being exposed to these current events:
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (Rom 8:18-19).
When we cannot hug friends, when we cannot get a hot dog at the ballpark, when we cannot even trust our neighbors to breathe while passing by for fear of getting sick, when our friends have lost their jobs, it is hard to think of celebration, because it feels like it will never end.
Yes, we wait with eager longing. But what does Paul mean by the revealing of the sons of God? Look back to when Jesus was proving the resurrection of believers to the doubting Sadducees:
“…for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection” (Luke 20:36).
What we are going through is a mere mosquito bite compared to what will come when we find ourselves in the presence of Jesus after rising from the dead. Be encouraged!
But why do we have to go through this?
“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom 8:20-21).
Was Paul thinking about the year 2020 when he said the creation is in bondage to corruption? It is hard to say, but his point is one of hope, that we will be set free!
“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom 8:22-23).
So we have a choice – groaning or joyous hoping that completely silences our groans!
“For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Rom 8:24-25).
Adoption as sons and daughters of God – forever – is the unseen hope, not the reopening of our favorite restaurant, which is hope to be seen.
Where are we on the Cycle of Perfect Unity today? Are we stuck once again at the fork in the road, teetering toward disunity from God because of our groaning? I certainly could be. But how grace shall reign is when I shake my head like emerging from a nightmare and consciously repent, knowing beyond a shadow of doubt that the never-ending love of God is standing with me and within me.
And then, following Jesus’ nod toward the good fork, I am forgiven and restored as a son of God!
And I realize once again that the sufferings of this present time cannot compare with the glory that is to come.
How about you? Are we ready to celebrate today with joy the hope that is not seen?
Praise God from whom all blessings flow, even in this powerful moment of history!