An online poll of over 2,100 people asked what a person would be willing to do for $1,000,000. The answers ranged from funny to downright disturbing.
- 38% said they would be willing to give up TV.
- 186 people said they would be willing to never see their family again.
- 58% would be willing to move to another country.
- 21% would be willing to get a tattoo on their forehead.
- 31% would swim in a tank with a shark.
- 21% would lay in a bed with scorpions.
- Almost 200 people were willing to have a limb amputated.
- 37 people said they would be willing to have their tongue removed.
As they say, everyone has their price. As whacky as some of the responses to the poll sound, it does prove something about humans. We are willing to suffer as long as we know it will be worth it.
As a person and as a pastor, I have both experienced and witnessed intense pain. There have been some things that have happened in all of our lives that cannot be quantified on a poll and for which there is no amount of money that would make it worth it.
When we suffer to that degree it can bring about a crisis of faith. It makes us wonder, what is God up to? What is the reason for all of this?
The Bible makes some head scratching statements, several of which I will attempt to cover over the next several weeks. The first one I want to tackle is not as much a direct statement as it is a divine theme. God has a good reason for bad things.
Knowing that reason could be life changing!
Imagine gaining a perspective that begins to help you make sense of the worst of what you have experienced.
You may never be thankful for what happened, but imagine a future time in which you are thankful for what came from what happened.
Imagine how much it might help you to know that God has a good reason for bad things.
There are a lot of passages in the Bible that speak to the idea that God has a good reason for bad things, but one of the clearest is Romans 8. Romans 8 also contains one of the most popular verses in Scripture, Romans 8:28.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”Romans 8:28
The entire chapter is magnificent, but I want to focus on verses 18-30 as God’s good reason for bad things. God’s good reason:
- Creates in us ANTICIPATION
- Gives us an EXPLANATION
- Offers us Divine INTERVENTION
With this post, I want to talk about how God’s good reason for bad things creates anticipation.
The Creation of Anticipation
The Bible tells us not only that there is a good reason for our suffering, but that there is a plan for it. God has a desired outcome that he shares with us in Romans 8:17b.”
He says we are, “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
According to the Bible, the overarching reason we go through suffering is so that we can be glorified with Christ. Suffering is a necessary pathway. There are no alternate routes.
While the news of coming suffering is somewhat unsettling, knowing that at the end of it is our glorification should give us a sense of anticipation. As previously stated, we are much more willing to suffer so long as we know it will be worth it.
Romans 8:18 expresses such anticipation.
“For 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
What is the Coming Glory?
What is that glory? While I would fail to be able to adequately capture all that “glory” entails I can point to three Biblical themes that make it quite amazing.
First and foremost this “glory” is the glory of Jesus Himself. He is the faithful Son of God who has pleased the Father. It is the glory of all things made by Him, for Him, and to Him. It is the glory of Him being preeminent in all things. It is the glory of Him being our resurrected Savior whose atoning death has brought to us new life. The glory of Jesus is that there will be people from every tribe, tongue, nation, and kindred that will have life on the other side of death. The glory is Jesus forever our conquering hero.
There is glory in our resurrected bodies. The Bible speaks more to this glory in 1 Corinthians 15, but in short, it is a body that is imperishable and incorruptible. It is a body that will no longer be susceptible to disease and death. Your skin will be fit for a sinless eternity. What is the glory? It is the glory of you becoming the way God always intended for you to be.
No doubt the New Heavens and the New Earth will be forever glorious. It will be the world as God intended, fruitful, vibrant, and clean. The cities will be righteous and good. There will be no injustice, prejudice, or divisiveness. There is no more famine, want, or hunger.
Pulling the Comps
As amazing as all of this sounds, even still, our minds cannot fully get there. And it is hard to anticipate something of which you have no concept. We need a comparison. The problem is that there is no comparison to the future glory that is to be revealed to us. To wrap your mind around future glory is like an attempt to get an appraisal on a mansion surrounded by slums. There are no comps. Therefore the Bible pulls its comp from a world we know too well. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared . . .”
A World of Wow
My daughters have some creative ways of engendering talk during our family meals. Recently, my oldest daughter called for everyone at the table to share 1) their high for the week 2) their low for the week and 3) their “WOW” for the week.
The “week” of which she was speaking was particularly hectic for me and so my mind began to try to process the week by replaying it. If recalling my high, low, and WOW moments were not enough, I had the added pressure of going first. All eyes were on me to kick off the family roundtable. So I said,
“My high was the bike ride I just finished about an hour ago. I felt strong and made good time. I feel pretty good about that.” “My low was our upstairs air conditioner giving up the ghost.” It was an air unit we had been propping up year after year. This year, it became scrap metal with a fan. “My WOW? The 5 grand we just dropped to replace that air unit.”
We live in a world filled with wow. All of it is memorable, not all of it is good. But this is our world and it is from here that we pull our comps. In this world, sometimes our “wows” are our worst.
Consider the Sufferings
So as a way of helping us build the anticipation due a glorious world, I think it is critical that we do what the first part of Romans 8:18 does, “consider the sufferings of this present time.”
The word suffering includes all of it – the loss, the tragedy, the mistakes, the injustice. Suffering in this world includes both our suffering for Christ as well as suffering without him.
We’ve all lost someone we loved.
Many have lost love.
There are those who have lost children. Some before birth and some soon after. There are some who die too young, but from what I have heard it does not matter how old. I have held too many mothers and fathers who tell me through the tears that there is nothing that hurts worse than losing a child.
Some have suffered with an addiction. Others have suffered with the addicted.
Some have been through a horrible health crisis.
Some have survived tragedy but now hurt so badly that they wished the tragedy had taken them.
Consider the sufferings of this present time.
It Doesn’t Even Compare
With that pain in mind, now we can better identify with the monumental amount of anticipation the created by the rest of the statement.
“For 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
Anticipate a future that Christ creates for us that is so glorious that it takes the worst moments that you’ve ever been through hardly even worth talking about.
Imagine the pain of the worst moments of your life eclipsed by the pleasure of an incomparable, glorious future secured for us in Christ.
Anticipate the joy of the pain of losing a child being eclipsed by the glory of spending eternity with him or her.
What about the “wow” of being forever free from addiction and hearing the story from heaven of how an all-knowing God rescued you and brought you to Himself.
There is coming a day in which that loved one you once watched lose health; you will lay eyes on them in glory forever healed!
Touch all of the pain, but realize as bad as it feels, it does not even compare to the glory that Christ will reveal to us!
God’s good reason for bad things is so that you can be glorified with Christ. As bad as this world is, the suffering we endure in it will not even compare with the glory that is to come. We have something amazing that is coming that makes it worth it. Anticipation!
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