I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?
Romans 8:18-24 (ESV)
Paul labels his present sufferings as nothing, but let’s keep in mind that compared to Paul’s, OUR sufferings are nothing. Paul suffered greatly for the gospel.
So what was his secret? How could he consider his sufferings as nothing?
When I tell my kids to clean their rooms, they moan of their “sufferings.” If I were to tell them they would be rewarded with a trip to Disneyland for a job well done, however, I have no doubt they would have their rooms sparkling in no time, and they’d be whistling while they worked (figuratively – they’re too young to whistle).
The difference is motivation. Having a goal.
I’ve come to believe that we spend entirely too little time thinking about Heaven. I’m convinced that if we could somehow wrap our mortal minds about the reality of Heaven, both as it exists now and in our eternal futures, it would radically change the way we live for Christ. The trouble is we as humans are terribly focused on this moment, and are very bad at broadening our gaze to include tomorrow, let alone eternity.
There is a book called Heaven by Randy Alcorn that I would highly recommend. We’ve been reading the kid’s version of the book with my children. It’s been an eye opener for our whole family as it forces you to not just give a quick thought toward Heaven, but forces you to really ponder on it.
I get truly excited when I think about what awaits us. To the degree that I’m able to keep my focus there, I have greater and greater capacity for living my life as Christ has called me to. Live as Paul said: “keeping your eye on the prize.”
In other words, give more than a quick thought about your eternal reward. Think on it every day. Build your anticipation on what awaits you. It’s going to be worth it. You possibly can’t get your hopes high enough!