Summary: Hope in difficult times
The Hope of Glory - Romans 8b - 3/1/09
Turn with me this morning to the book of Romans, chapter 8. This morning, we want to talk more about problems, something that happens to us all. Normally when we face problems, we go to one of two extremes. Either we hide our problems, and act like everything is all right: I remember a man in Indiana, Walter Ballard, he was dying, about to get his legs amputated, on morphine constantly, and when the doctor would come in and ask, “How are you today Mr. Ballard?” he would answer, “Oh, just fine!” His son used to say, “Dad, don’t say that you’re fine, let them know that you’re hurting!”
Sometimes we minimize our problems. The other extreme -- we often magnify our problems. We always have it worse than someone else. Someone shares their struggles and we say, “That’s nothing, let me tell you what’s wrong with me!” If they have a headache, you have a migraine. If you have the flu, they had pneumonia. But it’s sad that often we tend to magnify our problems. Because when we minimize our problems and when we magnify our problems, we tend to lose our focus on our God and the good He is doing in our lives.
This morning, as we come to Romans 8, we want to have a healthy view of our problems and see the right way to put them into perspective in our lives. We know why the sufferings come; we saw that in Romans 5. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. The sufferings help us develop perseverance, which builds godly character, which in turn teaches us to keep on hoping in our God. So, the trials we face are really good for us. Just like an athlete goes into training and runs miles every day or lifts weights or does pushups and situps; the trials make us stronger. But Paul also reminds us something else about the trials: Our problems are only a light affliction. As Paul writes to the church at Corinth, in 2 Corinthians 4 we find these words that he writes: Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Paul reminds us that the temporary trials that we face in this life are trivial compared to the glory that awaits us. And that is what we want to look at here in Romans 8. Look with me as I begin reading in Romans 8 at verse 18. READ Rom. 8:18-39. PRAY.
Paul starts out this section with the phrase “I consider” or “I reckon”-- this is a banking term that is a statement of truth, a statement of fact. Just like when you receive your bank statement, you can rely have the money in your account that the statement says you do. So, Paul is saying you can “take this to the bank”- and here is the truth: our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
That is what we saw in 2 Corinthians 4 -- God will greatly reward us for the present troubles and trials we face with far more glory. I love the story of Job, not just for Job’s faithfulness in trusting God, but for the way it shows us how God rewards. In the end of the story, God doubles everything Job had, just for going through a few weeks of trial and suffering. And that is what Paul reminds us here: our sufferings are nothing compared to the glory that God has in store for us.
Now, the question is, Do we really believe what the Bible tells us about heaven? Do we really believe that God will set everything right in the end. Do we have the hope of Abraham who confidently said, Will not the Judge of all the earth do right? The truth is, that many times we think very little about heaven. Those who are near death do, but the rest of us, who think we are in the prime of life, who think we will live many more years, often fail to think about heaven. Far too often we are invested heavily in the here and now, and not in the sweet bye and bye. Remember what Jesus said, For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21. In the book of 2 Timothy, Paul relates that he is alone. He tells about different companions who had left for one reason or another. He says, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. I have heard sermons before stating that Demas left Paul because he had a worldly, materialistic heart. And that could be. But it could also be simply that Demas was afraid to lose his life. He loved this present world, he loved being alive. But either way, it shows us he was not looking forward to heaven.