the sufferings of this time…

Jul 10, 2011


“I consider 

that the sufferings of this present time 

are as nothing

compared with the glory 

to be revealed for us” 

Romans 8:18

One of my seminary theology teachers would try to encourage us in the ‘stressful’ days before exams. He would say: “the sufferings of this time are not worth comparing to the glory yet to be revealed”.

Gerry was not predicting great student grades when he said this. Instead he was (with humour) nudging us to keep the glorious, God-centred, big picture in focus. Whenever Gerry offered his encouragement we would respond with laughter. We knew what he was saying to be true. It was a tragedy that we would forget this life-giving perspective right when we most needed to remember.

Last week, on this page, I reflected on the problem of stress. Stress is the consequence of a loss of healthy (therefore God-centred) perspective. When we know God’s love for us, even the most challenging trials are bearable. When we lose this life-giving perspective, even the joys of life fail to encourage us.

Imagine God saying to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden: ‘see this little, dead-looking, chip of wood. It is a seed. If you plant it in the soil, and give it some water, it will grow into a great tree like that one over there…’ 

Well to Adam and Eve, what God was saying would have been quite unbelievable. “Yeah, right” they might have laughed. Surely God was pulling their legs? How could such a dead looking little bit of wood could ever be a mighty green and flowering tree. That would take a great feat of magic!

No, this is not magic.  The magician only makes things seem to happen. We all know that the assistant is not really sawn in two. The watch is not really hammered. Magic is a clever feat of deception.

Instead what God does is truly miraculous. A miracle not only appears to happen. A miracle really does happen. Jesus really does bring sight to the blind. God really does raise Jesus from the dead.

So too, as the seed germinates and the tree flourishes, we see the miracle of life emerging from what seems lifeless. The life God offers us does not just seem to happen. This life is a reality. Our lives are full of moments that look deathly. We wonder ‘how can anything that delights me come from the impossible situation I find myself in today?’

When we look back over our lives we see the repeated pattern of life emerging from death. It the heart of a Christchurch winter it is easy to forget that spring will come. In the midst of earthquake devastation it is hard to imagine a successful rebuild. In the midst of grief over the loss of family and friends at Pike River, it is near impossible to imagine future moments of happiness.

But, from our past experience of deathly suffering and tragedy, new life has emerged. If not yet, this will come.

God’s hope-filled invitation is to notice the seeds of hope in our daily situation. Even the fact that you are reading this is proof that you are already seeking God. God has motivated your search, and God is with you.

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