World English Bible translation
8:18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed toward us. 8:19 For the creation waits with eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 8:20 For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope 8:21 that the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of decay into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. 8:23 Not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for adoption, the redemption of our body. 8:24 For we were saved in hope, but hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for that which he sees? 8:25 But if we hope for that which we donít see, we wait for it with patience.
Paul had just written that we were joint-heirs with Christ, that we could expect to suffer with Him as well as be glorified with Him. Paul understood that all those who are placed into the Body of Christ enter the household of God and are adopted as children of God. Part of being a child of God is the opposition of those that are opposed to God. Christ said that if the world hated Him it would hate His followers as well. We are not greater than our master is.
In the same sense, we can expect suffering in this life. When Jesus came in the likeness of sinful flesh He had to suffer, even though He was sinless and without guilt. He willingly took up our burden and suffered for us. If we take on the life of Christ within us then we also will suffer. But Paul reminds us that "the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed toward us." The glory that we shall have as children of God will make the suffering that we must experience worth enduring.
Paul tells us that even the creation awaits the moment of our glorification. The creation was affected by the fall of man. By the sin of Adam, death entered the world. The creation was without fault and without sin in its origin. But what Paul calls "the bondage of decay" entered when Adam rebelled. Now, "the whole creation groans and travails in pain together," waiting for its redemption. When the children of God are revealed on the last day, there will be a new heaven and a new earth and creation will be redeemed along with us.
Even the children of God eagerly wait for the redemption of their bodies. We have been given the first fruits of our inheritance, the Spirit of God. The Spirit is a down payment on our inheritance. Even so, our inheritance will be greater even than the active presence of the Spirit in our lives today.
Paul also reminds us of something we all learned as children. "Hope that is seen is not hope." Can you remember waiting for something very special as a child? Many times we would work ourselves up into such heights of expectation that nothing that we received could have been as good as the expectation itself. We learn as adults to lower expectations for this very reason. The minute we receive something, we can no longer hope for it.
We all need hope. Hope is what keeps us going forward, even in the face of suffering. We hope for something better that is to come. But our hope in God is not unrealistic or fanciful. Even the best that we can imagine is only the first fruits of what God will give us. We will be so completely transformed that we cannot even imagine the extent of the transformation right now.
We really don't know all that much about the life to come that we will spend with God. God is forced to explain our new existence in such vague terms. This is because our understanding right now is so perverted by the world in which we live. We cannot even envision the glorious creation that God will achieve because all that we have experienced has been a creation that is infected with the "bondage of decay."
One day there will be a world without sin and death. One day we will be face to face with the holy and righteous God. One day our bodies AND our minds will be redeemed and we will be capable of serving God as we were meant to do. Until that day, we must hold on to our hope.
What is it that you hope for? What keeps you going from one day to the next?
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