Paul continues with his teaching that we are co-heirs with Christ sharing everything with Him; His suffering and His glory. Paul says, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Paul’s point, our present troubles, heartaches, sufferings are “light and momentary” when compared to the eternal peace and glory that will be revealed in us. This reminds me most of being pregnant and enduring hours of labor resulting in the wonder of birth and the miracle of a newborn life. However we all know of those unfortunate women who literally suffer morning sickness their entire pregnancy, or days and days of labor before birth and tragically some who endure all this only to have their precious child die. It is hard to understand that we could call this “light and momentary”, that seems heartless. But Paul is not making light of our sufferings, instead He is amplifying the eternal and the glory. I soon forgot the hours of labor and discomfort when I saw the face of my newborn son and we have the assurance that the unimaginable glory we will see with Jesus will make all our suffering and troubles pale in significance.
Paul tells us that along with us “creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.” We know from Genesis that the entire creation was subjected to the curse because of man’s sin, because Adam and Eve chose to believe Satan over what God told them, we have thorns and thistles, weeds and sweat and we toil all the days of our lives. An important principle is revealed here: when we sin, the consequences do not rest on us alone, everything in our life, our family and our environment is effected by our willful disobedience.
Creation waits; it groans and suffers along with mankind, waiting for the time when it will be set free from sin, death and weeds when Christ Jesus returns. At that time we, creation and believers, will be restored to the way God created us to be. Therefore, “we eagerly wait for it with endurance”.
We all know that this hopeful waiting is easier said than done, but we are confident that “the Spirit helps us in our weakness”, interceding for us with the Father, searching our hearts and minds, expressing things we cannot do on our own. We know God knows and judges our every thought and our true intentions revealing our sins, but here we learn and are assured that He also knows every good thought and pure intention and that the Holy Spirit continually intercedes for us.
“And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose”, it is important to note that the “good” here is that which conforms us to Christ, this is not my list of good things I want, this is the good that God wants for me. God brings good things out of all things, even tragedies, persecution and sufferings. Here is how The Message explains this truth, “That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good”.
This next verse is one that people get all worked up over debating what the words “foreknew” and “predestined” really mean. “Because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters”. Take careful notice of what we are predestined to be in this verse, “to be conformed to the image of his Son”, this is our life’s purpose; it is all about what God is doing and has done for those who are “His children”. This is how The Message explains it: “God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him”.
Here is God’s plan for us: we are called, we are justified, we are conformed to be like Jesus and we are glorified (sanctified) – ultimately with God’s purpose and plan we will no longer “fall short of the glory of God”.
Paul concludes this chapter with a series of questions and answers. God who gave the supreme gift of His Son to save us will also graciously do whatever it takes to complete His work in me. No charges will be brought against believers, because God has already declared us “not guilty”, just as if I never sinned. Jesus Christ who is seated next to the Supreme Judge is interceding for us. Nothing can separate believers from the love of God; in fact in “all things” we have complete victory through him who loved us! Paul ends this section on sanctification with a very powerful statement, there is nothing in all creation (think of all those evils so powerfully at work in the world today) can ever drive a wedge between the loving God and His redeemed people – Absolutely Nothing!