The front page of this morning's Wall Street Journal has a poignant photo: a woman is holding a newborn baby surrounded by life jackets and chaos on a ship. They are among more than 700 migrants rescued yesterday from seven boats in the Mediterranean Sea and transferred to the Italian coast guard.
CNN reports today on another harrowing escape over the weekend. Southwest Airlines Flight 3472, en route from New Orleans to Orlando, was diverted to Pensacola, Florida, after an engine exploded. "It was thanks to that pilot that we're all alive," a passenger said after the plane landed safely.
One more story of resilience: according to CNN, a couple was married yesterday amid the rubble of the deadly earthquake in Italy. They had planned to be married in the town church, but part of the building crumbled in the quake that killed at least 291 people. So they moved their wedding to the village square and made a memory the world is sharing today.
When people demonstrate courage in the face of devastating challenges, the culture takes notice. This is especially true when Christians remain faithful in a faithless day. But it's sometimes hard to trust God for a future outcome that redeems present suffering. So let's consider this statement by the Apostle Paul: "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18). Nearly every word of this remarkable sentence repays deeper investigation.
"Consider" translates a Greek word meaning "to study all the evidence and reach a verifiable conclusion." "Suffering" is a term for all hardships, generic enough to include your challenges today. "This present time" uses a Greek word meaning not this hour or moment but this present age.
"Not worth comparing" is literally translated, "so meager as not to be worthy of comparison." "Glory" translates doxa, a word from which we get "doxology." It refers to splendor, majesty, the brilliance of God's perfection. "Revealed" means "to pull back the curtain and display all that is on the other side." "Us" shows that every Christian is a recipient of this astounding promise.
Taken together, these definitions render Paul's promise thus: "I am absolutely certain on the basis of all the evidence that every kind of suffering in this era of human existence is not worthy of the slightest comparison to the splendors that will be revealed fully to each and every one of us."
What's your problem today? What suffering in "this present time" is testing your faith?
I am convinced that God redeems all he allows. However, his redemption does not always take place immediately. Joseph languished for years in Pharaoh's prison before ascending to his palace. Stephen died without knowing his influence on Paul the Apostle (Acts 7:58). Much of God's redemption of present suffering lies in future revelation.
But one day you will know what you do not know today: "Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known" (1 Corinthians 13:12).
In the meantime, know that the future reward of your present faithfulness far outweighs its cost. And remember that the world is watching your obedience. As the song says, "May all who come behind us find us faithful."
Publication date: August 29, 2016
For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
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