Not everything in the life of Paul, an apostle of Messiah, was glory clouds and rainbows. We often focus on the end of his race, which was glorious in Yeshua/Jesus; but the years, months, and weeks before his graduation were filled with pain, suffering, and heartache.
Paul, writing in Corinth to Rome, reflecting not only on the glory of Messiah, but also on his own experience writes, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Ro. 8:18).
The sufferings, experienced not only by his audience in Rome, but by Paul himself: beatings, shipwreck, stoning, lashes, rejection, false accusations, gossip, etc., (II Cor. 11:23-28). These tragic circumstances pale in comparison to the glory yet to be revealed in the saints of God in Messiah.
Later in Romans 8, Paul encourages his audience that what they, he, and we are enduring is being worked together. This imagery is that of the potter before his wheel, taking the clumps, seemingly disconnected, being worked into something useful, as he writes:
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Ro. 8:28).
Who is he describing? There are qualifications, those who: love God, and are called. The saints, ἅγιος/hagios.
What is a saint/ἅγιος/hagios? In Greek, one who is separated, committed, pliable to the will of God as called in His grace. In Hebrew, קָדוֹשׁ/kadosh – seaparated, dedicated, cleansed by separation from the common.
For those set-apart to God, He takes the “all things” noted by Paul, and works them with His hands together, according to His will, as He reforms His people into the image of His Son. Paul explains:
“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Ro. 8:29).
Messiah, suffered and endured to a degree beyond our comprehension. In this, we recognize that we, as His followers, will share in His sufferings (I Pet. 4:13; Phil. 3:10; Matt. 16:24).
Yet, here is the good news. Even though our lives are not, neither should they be, all glory clouds and rainbows, the comfort for suffering is so much greater, Paul encourages:
“For as the sufferings of Messiah abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Messiah” (I Cor. 1:5).
Paul, following Yeshua, provided an example of faithfulness and endurance in suffering, despair, and pain. Know for certain, just as Paul knew, that what will be revealed in you, to the glory of the Father, is far greater than what you endure right now; and that every uncertainty, every fear and failure, heartache and betrayal is being worked in His hand.
Be well. Shalom.