For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:22-23.
I’ve never had to suffer much in my life; it’s all been quite easy and rosy for me. God has greatly blessed me (and I often take his kindness to me for granted) in providing a wonderful and loving family and friends, safety (I’m starting to appreciate just how great a place Sydney is to live, in terms of freedom and political/natural safety, etc), all the comforts and conveniences one could expect, lots of interests to keep me occupied in my free time and the freedom to enjoy them, and now my very best friend, Jeh.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us….For in this hope we were saved. For who hopes in what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:18, 24-25.
God promises wonderful blessings, but He does not promise that life will be easy. I feel a little bit scared every time I read and reflect on verses about Christian suffering. I read and hear about the way that brothers and sisters in Christ suffer for His name in countries where it is the law that those who believe in Jesus should be put to death, and hear individual stories about the creative ways people think up to make that happen. I hear about how survivors of such stories respond with forgiveness for the people who murdered their families. And closer to home, I see friends suffer in different ways: for sharing their faith and being rejected in their school/work/circle of friends, and persevering in the challenges that God has given them (e.g. infertility, the death of their children, raising children with disabilities, singleness, breakdown of families, and many more). I fall down in a heap when I have too much to do, when things don’t work out perfectly, or I haven’t been sleeping well.
Which makes me wonder how strong my faith will be if God decides to put a really big hurdle in the way. It’s probably the wrong kind of fear- faith is believing in God who gives me faith and sets me right with him by suffering the sins of the whole world. If I do depend on my own faithfulness then I am likely to fall away. But we have a greater promise of everlasting in faith in this:
“… If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?… For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, not things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:31-32, 38-39.