There are many types of pain: physical pain, emotional pain, and spiritual pain. Some pain is not by our choosing. We suffer from wars we didn’t declare. We eat the bitter fruit from trees we didn’t plant. What does God word say about pain? Rom 8:18: “For 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.”
Scripture clearly addresses the issue of suffering. There is no fine print in the contract that guarantees we will not know pain. Problems are real; pain is real.
In the context of pain, Paul says, “For I reckon …” A bookkeeping term; Paul had been adding things up; taking inventory; he came to the bottom line and said, “I’m in the black.” Three propositions:
Yesterday’s Curse brings Bondage
Rom 8:20: For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope.
Futility (vanity, KJV): Greek: mataiotes – “empty; having no purpose; depravity.” The creation does not reach its original purpose; falls short of what was intended (Rom. 8:21-22).
Originally, all that God created was “good.” But when Adam sinned, he dragged the whole human race with him into the slavery to corruption. Curse on all the creation:
- Animal kingdom (tooth and claw)
- Mineral kingdom (ground is cursed)
- Vegetable kingdom (why its easier to grow weeds than tomatoes)
- Human kingdom (morally depraved)
Tomorrow’s Conquest brings Liberty
The creation is subjected to bondage, but it was subjected in hope (Rom. 8:21). In that freedom from bondage, the sufferings of the present time will be unworthy to even be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us.
In the Garden of Eden, the First Adam failed and the creation fell into bondage. In the Garden of Gethsemane, the Second Adam prevailed and the promise of the creation’s deliverance was conceived. In the First Adam, we have Paradise Lost. In the second Adam, we have Paradise Found. What is the bridge between these two?
Today’s Comfort brings Hope
We have an eschatological hope (Rom 8:24-25) that is certain, but we don’t hold it in our hand just yet. We live in the tension of “the already, but not yet.” Our groaning is temporary.
Three times “groaning” is mentioned.
- Groaning of the Creation: Rom 8:22: For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. Creation is winding down; coming apart; the wind is blowing in the minor key.
- Groaning of the Christian: Rom 8:23: And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves …
- Groaning of the Comforter: Rom 8:26: In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
For the believer, all the suffering you will ever know is this side of the grave. For the unbeliever, all the joy you will ever know is this side of the grave. The groans are temporary, but the glory is eternal. Suffering will not last; glory will not end. Suffering is for a while; but glory is forever.
So in between the suffering brought by yesterday’s curse and waiting in hope for tomorrow’s conquest, my hope is the comfort that is divinely given by the indwelling Spirit of God. I am prepared for glory, predestined for glory, and preserved for glory.
2 Cor 4:16-17: “Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison …”