The book of Romans leads readers like a roadmap through faith in Jesus.
Paul starts at the beginning of the story--God's anger at sin--and takes us through the path of judgement, the law, faith in Jesus, and freedom from sin through adoption, justification, and sanctification-- phew! And that's just the first eight chapters! Paul takes us step by step-- he doesn't want us to miss a fragment of God's master plan, full of his love for us.
Directly before 8:18-30, in verses 12-17, Paul gives us the BEST NEWS.
He tells us that faith in Jesus means we are no longer slaves to sin, but adopted children of God! In verse 17 he tells us that since "we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory. But if we are to share in his glory, we must also share in his suffering." It's the perfect set-up for what he talks about in verses 18-30, which is the present suffering of our circumstances contrasted with the future glory of eternity in Heaven.
Glory is defined as honor, splendor, or magnificence, and Paul tells us that we are going to be glorified with Christ in eternity. But because Christ suffered on Earth, having his same inheritance means that we as believers are bound to suffer too.
However, Paul tells us that he believes "the present suffering is nothing compared to the glory that is to be revealed to us."
Paul's main point to the Roman church and to us today is that there is HOPE. We have hope in the glory of Christ, even if our current circumstances aren't perfect.
Hebrews 11:1 says that "faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen. It gives us assurance about the things we cannot see." As he talks about creation groaning for the revealing of the sons and daughters of God (v. 21-23), he tells us that our hope should be firmly established in Christ's death and resurrection. This is our confidence, that even if our circumstances don't appear to be glorious, "we hope for what we do not see... with perseverance we wait eagerly for it" (v. 25).
If we want to have a confidence in eternal glory that is rooted in truth, the first thing we have to do is get real with God about where we are.
We can take a look at our circumstances, and understand that Jesus never promised an easy life for believers--he actually assured us that there would be suffering. We are not entitled to ease, but we also are not victims. Speaking the truth of Romans 8:15 over ourselves, we can confidently say that "we have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear, but a spirit of adoption as God's children." And God's children are not victims to our circumstances.
Further along in the passage, verses 26-27 remind us that the Holy Spirit is constantly interceding on our behalf, as it "helps us in our weakness." Two out of the three members of the Holy Trinity are constantly praying for us! That is powerful! We can partner with Jesus' and the Holy Spirit's intercession by speaking truth over ourselves and taking thoughts captive.
Verse 28 says "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Knowing who God is--that he is good, that he carried a promise to make the negative situations, the tragic situations, the seemingly hopeless situations, work for our good-- can continue to fill us with hope. Because it is truly glorious that we get to spend an eternity with a God who loves us enough to redeem us.
My prayer for you is that you would believe in your identity as a son or a daughter of God. That any question marks about your worth, your adoption, your inheritance, and your future would fall away as you come to know the heart of the Father more and more. I pray that this identity would fill you with hope to believe in a good future and a glorious eternity, despite your present circumstances and sufferings. I pray that the sacrifice of Jesus would never become old news, and that you would know the width, length, height, and depth of the love Christ has for you.
Author | Erin Gilleland