18 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. 19 For the creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God’s sons to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility–not willingly, but because of him who subjected it–in the hope 21 that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage to decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now. 23 Not only that, but we ourselves who have the Spirit as the firstfruits–we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.Romans 8:18-23
What were the sufferings of the present time and what future glory was Paul speaking of? vs18
Persecution of the church began from the very start of the church. Immediately in Acts we find the temple police and the Sadducees putting the apostles in prison (Acts 4) and stoning the Christians, including Stephen. (Acts 7) Some of this was in the leadership of Saul (later Paul).
Paul suffered greatly after his salvation. Right from the start, he was blinded and had to find his way to Ananias. Some think that poor eyesight was the thorn he had to bear or at least that his health issues were causing his poor eyesight. (Acts 9:15-16, 2 Cor 12:1-6 Blue Letter Bible)
He wrote to the Corinthians about his many trials continually throughout his ministry. (2 Corinthians 4:8-12) He was beaten, imprisoned, stoned, shipwrecked, weary, sleepless, poor, hungry and thirsty, cold and naked. And yet through Christ, he prevailed. (2 Corinthians 11:23-28 Bible Charts.org)
He shared often though that these sufferings not only kept him humble but helped him grow in faith. God also used his sufferings to further the Kingdom and spread the Gospel to the Gentiles.
These persecutions would continue leading up to all the horrific things Nero did to the Christians and beyond. Paul’s letters, which were already circulating by that time, would be a great encouragement to the Christians and remind them of their future glory.
We often think of the future glory being when we all get to heaven and all sorrows and tears are gone. Paul shared with the Romans that they could have peace now and God was working through their afflictions to produce character. (Romans 5:1-5)
Can You Relate to Paul’s Suffering?
The fact that we aren’t exactly sure what Paul’s thorn was; turns out to be for our advantage because we can relate his sufferings with our own; whatever they may be. Christians from many generations have benefited by his reference to the thorn while applying it to their specific problems (2 Corinthians 12 – Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable – Bible Commentaries – StudyLight.org)
The thorn of which Paul speaks gives us an understanding of God’s perspective concerning physical infirmities. (Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh – Study Resources – blueletterbible.org)
Personally, I have suffered from chronic pain for over 10 years. At times the pain is excruciating but I have found complete trust in God… a much deeper relationship with the Lord of Lords than I ever would have had. At one point, I had the same conversation with God that Paul had. “Please Lord take this pain away from me. I have learned my lesson.” (2 Corinthians 12) But God reminded me that I, like Paul, needed this pain to keep me humble. And so, we walk hand in hand, day-by-day. It’s a wonderful hope of glory. And I look forward to the day when He will wipe away every tear from my eyes. (Revelation 21:4) And I can leap with the lame, see with the blind, hear with the deaf, and shout with the dumb! Oh! What a glorious day that will be.
This is only part of my study on Romans 8:18-23. I am privileged to participate in writing Bible Studies for an Online Women’s Bible Study, Gracefully Truthful. Continue here to finish the study on The Groanings of Creation.
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Pastor’s Wife (retired) & Chronic Pain Warrior blogs about how to make it through anything by relating her own life experiences to her writing. She is passionate about her love for the Lord and desires to spread that passion to others. She has a great desire to encourage women who are following behind her.