[Aug 20]—Dust On The Scale

Romans 8:18

            Today I want to focus on just one verse. It’s just a few words, but like much of Paul, he packs 10 pounds of meaning into a 5 pound bag.
            Before we talk about it, though, I need to address a potential objection out there. I am fully cognizant of the fact that there are tons of people out there who’ve suffered a lot more than I ever have or ever likely will. I didn’t have abusive parents, we lived in a middle-class home, I never went without the basics such as food or water or shelter, etc; in fact, we very rarely went without any material possession we really wanted. I live in a wonderful country, I have my health, I have a good job, and I have the most wonderful wife in the world. I’ve never been beaten up in my life.
            And there are plenty of people who read this and who think this disqualifies me from talking about suffering at all. “Yeah, come back to me when you’ve gone without a meal or had a beating or been told you’ll never walk again.” And they have a point. I do feel self-conscious as I talk about verses like this. I’m sure there are plenty of folks who’ve learned about suffering not by sitting in a classroom but in the “school of hard knocks” who could easily dismiss what I have to say about it.
            But I’m not the one who wrote this verse. Paul was. And here’s some of his suffering “résumé”: “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.  I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.”
            I want you please to slowly read the above passage and then read today’s verse. I mean, it’s really easy for a wuss like me to say “You know, the sufferings we get in this life aren’t worthy to be compared to what our Father has in store for us.” But this is exactly what Paul said.
            This is how he was able to call his sufferings “light and momentary troubles.” It wasn’t that he minimized the bad things he’d gone through. That’d be stoicism at best or masochism at worst. He didn’t downplay these things because they weren’t painful.
            It’s just that when you look at what we go through in this life, no matter how bad, it’s not worth comparing to the glory he has in store for us. In the 2 Corinthians verse above where he called his troubles “light and momentary,” he said that the only lasting effect is that they’re “achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” On the “scales” of the bad and good in your life, if you put all the bad things which have ever happened to you on one side and the good on the other, there might be a comparison to be made between the two. Most of us experience a mixture of good and bad in this life. But when you drop our future glory in Christ onto the “good” side, the “bad” side is like dust on the scales, not even to be noticed.
            No matter what bad (and what good) you get in this life, all of it will be overwhelmed someday by the glory we’ll see. As the song below says, all of it will be swept away by the first glance of our Savior's face. That's all it'll take.

Father, I’m so quick to complain when I suffer just the smallest bit of pain. Take away any of my material comforts, and I scream like a banshee. Please, by your Spirit, quiet my soul. Take my eyes off my (very) light and momentary troubles and back onto you. 

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