Not long ago I walked down a country road and saw the spring leaves popping from the trees. Literally a week earlier the branches had nothing. One week! It got me to thinking.
(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)
All the potential for the trees to leaf lay hidden, dormant all winter, until something inside the trees awakened them from sleep. Life was there all the time, hiding behind death, until something cued it to resurrect.
If this is how the earth responds to the stimulus of spring every year, how much more potential lay dormant—awaiting the moment God removes the effects of fallen humanity from our planet? Talk about an Earth Day!
The Bible uses this truth to encourage us in our struggles.
Our Future Exceeds Our Present
Our present sufferings are huge. Most times, they distract and dominate our lives with pain so intense we can’t imagine it will ever quit. Hopelessness best describes how we feel.
The Bible never diminishes the reality of our struggles. Instead, the Scriptures challenge us to put them in perspective.
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. —Romans 8:18
For you as a Christian, in comparison with the future of glory in God’s kingdom, the worst pain you have ever felt in your life cannot compare with the joy of the glories to come.
Two facts show this true.
Proof from a Groaning Creation
The first book of the Bible reveals that the curse on creation came a direct result of the curse on mankind. God told Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you” (Gen. 3:17).
That’s why when God removes the curse of sin from humanity, the creation will also enjoy a change. If you’re where you can, read these verses out loud:
For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. —Romans 8:19-22
Maybe there’s far more beauty hiding behind the winter of the curse, anticipating that final spring when the creation will bloom as God intended. Like a mother who groans with childbirth, the creation eagerly waits for an Earth Day like it has never seen.
(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)
Suffering is universal, but here’s the good news: it’s also temporary.
Like childbirth, we have a great deal of pain for what seems like a long time. But in relation to our enjoyment of our children, the childbirth experience doesn’t compare. After the groaning, a person comes who makes the groaning worth it. That person, for the Christian, is the return of Christ.
This is what the text meant by: “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
Proof from Groaning Christians
The fruit the earth produces also illustrates the certainty of our hope:
And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. —Romans 8:23-25
For the Christian, the Holy Spirit residing and guiding within represents only a foretaste of heaven. But it’s not the whole crop. We don’t receive all we are supposed to get until heaven. And until then, we groan, and we wait eagerly for it.
Waiting for the Ultimate Earth Day
We hate to wait. We are a now society. We’ll take the shortcut simply because it’s shorter. But God urges us to “eagerly wait” for that ultimate Earth Day by remaining faithful.
The word for “eagerly wait” (v. 25) is used seven times in the New Testament, each time referring the return of Christ.
True hope—biblical hope—is a waiting and longing for what is certain. (Tweet that.)
Real hope is an eager expectation of what will happen.