Have you ever noticed that the description of many things requires some kind of comparison? To my 9 year old son, I am “tall,” while on my basketball team in high school I was “short.” Same person. Same 5’10” in height. But two opposite descriptions. Which one is right? Well, it depends on whose perspective you are evaluating through.
Take another example. I would consider my Subaru Impreza “heavy.” Compared to my house, though, my car is “light.” If an F3 tornado hit my home with my car in the driveway, the Subaru might be thrown about like a rag doll while at least some measure of my house might remain.
Tall/short. Heavy/light. These terms only mean something when we know the context and when they are compared to something else.
I was thinking about this today as I read Romans 8:18 which says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” This verse reminded me of 2 Corinthians 4:17 which says, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” In these verses, Paul calls the suffering and struggle in this life “light.” I don’t know about you, but that bugs me a bit! The suffering and struggle that we go through in this world does not feel “light.” It also does not appear “momentary.” Cancer, divorce, persecution, misunderstanding, losing your job, being alienated from a friend or child or parent, an untimely death . . . all these things weigh HEAVY on our hearts, and some of these pains go on and on and on. In what possible way could the Apostle call them “light” and “momentary”?
Paul can make such statements by shifting our perspective. He is not saying that the suffering of this life is easy . . . he is saying it “does not compare to the glory that is to be revealed to us.” In other words, our sufferings may look tall compared to our past, but they are short compared to our God promised future. Our struggle may seem heavy today, but it is light when compared to our inheritance in Christ. Our difficulties may seem to drag on today, but they are “momentary” when compared to eternity.
The Spiritual Life of a Christian is not free from suffering. We know that. But our suffering does to compare to all that God has promised us. We will talk about that perspective more this Sunday morning as we continue our “Spiritual Life” series (part 5) by looking at Romans 8:18-25 together at Wildwood Community Church in our 9:30 and 11:00 services. We hope to see you there!