Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Suffering and the Glory

OK, I admit it - I'm addicted to Romans chapter 8! I love to preach the Bible, all parts of the Bible, but I especially love to preach from Romans 8. By the way, I am preaching through Romans 8 in my sermons at church as I work my way through the Book of Romans. Romans 8:28 was the source of comfort my mother gave to me repeatedly as I was growing up. She loved this verse so much, and she applied it is such a way in her life, that when she died we etched this passage in her headstone at the cemetery. Romans 8 just seems to house within it all of the great and comforting truths that extend to the extremity of life. I cannot fathom a circumstance in life for which Romans 8 would not speak or could not give comfort.

I was reading Romans 8:18 and pondering afresh the pervasive problem of human suffering in light of the majestic glory of Christ. The glory of Christ in its existential reality and eschatological promise form the expansive refuge of hope for the Christian. With weakened heart and trembling hands I take this word from the Word and press it to my aching soul. Here in God's Word I see the following:

1. Suffering, though in contradiction to God's un-fallen creation, is not outside of the realm of normalcy in terms of living in a world in rebellion against God.

2. Suffering is the part of the experiential fabric of Christian's life as he or she seeks to live out in this world authentic faith in and love for Jesus Christ.

3. There is a sense in which suffering Christians continue to share in the sufferings of Christ (see Colossians 1:24).

4. As such, Christ suffers with His suffering people as they live out their active and anchored faith in Christ for the sake of the Gospel.

5. Because of this suffering Christians have a sweet fellowship with Jesus, and Jesus makes Himself known to them in the context of their pain.

6. The Christian life is not intended to be an escape from suffering, but rather a glorious declaration to the universe of the worthiness of God and the wonderful life Christ gives in spite of any and every circumstance.

7. Suffering becomes the ambiance in which the Christian begins to formulate an understanding of the greatest gift of all - the gift of glorification in eternity in which the believer will join Christ in eternal joy, hope, peace, and glory! Thus, suffering becomes, in effect, the window through which we see the glory of God, and death becomes the door to our greatest victory.

Oftentimes we Christians will confess these truths through the veil of our tears. We will weep and grieve, yet rejoice in the process. For pain and sorrow and suffering are nothing to be compared with the glory Jesus shares with His darling Bride, the church. And, Christian friend, you and I are part of that Bride. Our destiny is GLORIOUS! Rejoice today in all things through Christ Jesus our Lord.

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