Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.
18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. 24 We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. 25 But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.) – Romans 8:12-25 [NLT]
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? I think that’s a line from Shakespeare. Ah, yes. Sonnet 18, the opening line from it to be exact (I looked it up!). What do you like to use for comparison’s sake? Is your job like a long slog up a steep and muddy hill? Is your investment portfolio like a dark cavern: empty and foreboding? Is your life like a spring day among the bluebonnets of Texas?
Paul offers a comparison here – or better yet – a lack of suitable comparison when considering the sufferings of these times with the glory we will experience on the Great Last Day. There is more than one reason for this.
Surely we realize that the amount of evil, pain, sickness, and suffering we experience here will be eclipsed by the goodness, joy, health, delight, and glory we will experience in the life of the world to come. That’s good enough, but that’s not all.
The whole of creation is suffering in the midst of even our greatest joys and delights on this earth. Too often we’re oblivious to the earth’s sufferings. During these days of pandemic we learn how the world is experiencing a reprieve of sorts. Smog and pollution is greatly reduced. It’s as though the world is able to take a breather while we’re shut down.
In the life of the world to come there will be no such trade-off. All will be well-balanced.
Yet another facet of the perfection we do not now see – and too often we’re blind to this – is that while we may be enjoying good times, great joy, much good health, and prosperity, there are people who are on the other end of that spectrum of delight. Sometimes they are right next door. Sometimes they’re a coworker. Sometimes they may half way around the world. But their suffering – close or far – is no less real.
The whole creation is groaning and yearning for the revelation of God’s sons and daughters. The whole creation longs for the glory that will be revealed on that Great Last Day. The whole creation longs for Jesus to manifest the fullness of his victory over sin, death, and Satan.
And while we wait we hope. Let’s not kid ourselves about this world’s brokenness and groaning. But let’s not abandon the hope we have in Jesus. When he comes there will be no comparisons needed.