28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
This verse has been on my heart lately. The first time I did a study on this passage was in 2002. I was a graduate assistant wrestling coach at a college in Kentucky. One night I got a call from one of my wrestlers informing me that there had been a car accident. He went on to tell me that all three wrestlers that were involved had been rushed to the ER. I got out of bed and drove to the hospital. When I arrived I was given the heartbreaking news that one of my wrestlers had died. At his memorial, this verse was placed upon my heart.
We were all left with the question, why him? He was a Christian, he was a great kid, and was kind to everyone; what good could come of this? This verse explains what happens after tragedies but the preceding verses explain the tragedies.
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
At first glance, it might look as if God is subjecting us to suffering. But the Bibleref.com breaks it down this way. The website explains that the Greek word for suffering implies something that is warped, perverse, sick, weak. In other words, our present condition (Suffering) is not what God originally intended for us. In the first chapters of Genesis, the earth was perfect. There was no death, no sickness, and no suffering. Then through Adam’s sin creation was warped. Our bodies immediately began to decay and sickness and suffering began to prevail.
In essence, the world in its fallen state is not always awesome. Bad things happen. For example, right now we are on quarantine, have been for 2 weeks. COVID 19, SARS, MERS, all examples of creation that has been warped. This scripture does not say that as Christians we will be immune to the suffering of this world. But it tells us that it all works together for the good of those who love the Lord.
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
Romans 8:16-17 NKJV
Focus in on this line, “if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified.” This drives home the point that in this earth’s fallen state suffering is unavoidable. As I type this I’m in pain right now. Arthritis, headaches, and anxiety have plagued me all my life. But if I go through all of this in Christ, then I will reap eternal rewards. I don’t want anyone to misunderstand me, I understand that Paul is talking about being persecuted for your faith. In his day Christians were brutalized and even in 2020, some are still experiencing this. But for those of us in America, your fight for the faith is more inward.
Anything you watch on television throws subtle hints that God isn’t real. It has been socially acceptable to insult Christianity more so than any other faith. This truth was actually pointed out to me by someone who wasn’t even Christian. To continue to contend for the faith when the world as a whole urges you not to is to suffer with Him. We may not be stoned or tortured but we will be laughed at, ridiculed, and mocked.
I believe in my heart that we can never become too comfortable in the world because God never intended for us to live in a corrupted world. God allowed the corruption to enter in as a response to Adams’s sin and later sent a path to redemption by offering up his son (See Romans 10:9). To conclude this study, I’ll you you with this.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake, we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:31-39 NKJV