March 11 (Reading for March 7-13: Romans 8:1-23. These comments are for verses 12-23). There is an interesting thought found in verses 17: “If we share Christ’s suffering, we will also share his glory.” God wants us to receive His glory! Jesus, speaking of His disciples, and of us, said to His Father: “The glory which You have given Me I also have given to them” (Jn. 17:22). We think of the results of sin in terms of punishment and death, and rightly so. But I think that God must consider how sin results in the tragic loss of His glory. Paul told us that sinners “fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). It’s no small thing that God offers to share His glory, only to have humans reject it! How then can a sinner have God’s glory? He adopts us! We “have received a spirit of adoption as sons and daughters.” When the Holy Spirit assures our spirit that we are God’s children, we lovingly call Him, “Abba, Father!” (v. 15-16). As His children, we experience the full gamut of relationship: we are “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (v. 17). We share His sufferings and His glory, knowing that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (v. 18). Whether you understand it or not, suffering is a part of God’s universal plan so that we can fully know His glory.
Paul put suffering in a global and universal context when he said that the whole creation groans and suffers. The pandemic has brought a new understanding of global suffering. I read in a Facebook article: “It took the world seven months to record its first million deaths from the virus after the pandemic began in early 2020. Four months later another million people had died, and 1 million have died every three months since, until the death toll hit 5 million at the end of October. Now it has reached 6 million.” And now we can add to that the war inflicted by Russia on Ukraine. If it’s true that misery loves company, we should all be ecstatic right now.
But here is the good news: God’s creation waits for His glorious liberation! The bondage to sin affects not only humans, but “the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (v. 21). Paul compared it to the pains of childbirth. The entire world is going through labor pains, waiting to be delivered from suffering by the redemption that God has prepared for us! And we must not stop at verse 23, because there is a word that is repeated five times in verses 24-25, “hope”! I go back to Romans 5:3-4, “We glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (NIV). And this promise of hope helps us to be patient; wait for it! Our “sufferings…are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
– Al Gary