18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[a] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 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. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Throughout this chapter, Paul is juxtaposing ‘living in the flesh’ and ‘living in the Spirit.’ One practical application is our focus during times of hardship. The most power antidote to present suffering is having a sense of purpose. God has gifted us with two things that allow us to overcome our current situation and have hope: self-awareness, which is the ability to reflect on our thoughts, desires and feelings; and imagination, which allows us to see beyond our present circumstances. In addition, God’s own Spirit lives in and works through us so that can celebrate that which is yet to come.
So, in time so hardship, do you focus on your immediate circumstances and allow them to dictate your mindset? Or do you focus on the things of God – that which is eternal, life-giving and good? Living by the Spirit allows us to say with confidence that our circumstances are nothing compared to the glorious things of God. And with that confidence, we have hope that God is at work and that He will bring His plans to completion (Charlie).
Thoughts for the day
- How can you focus on God during times of suffering?
- In what areas of your life are you having a hard time? How can God work in those circumstances to refine you?
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you create a space in your calendar and a place in your life for prayer. Where?.