– Max Lucado
Nothing Compares With the Coming Glory
Paul suffered like few other Christians in history. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 11:24-28 that he suffered from “imprisonments, countless beatings, often near death, five times…forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.” You think you or I have it rough? However, Paul wrote, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18). In eternity, we will all look back, and nothing we experience today will compare to the eternal joy in God’s presence.
The Promised Hard Road
Jesus said that “the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matt. 7:14). Therefore, we are to “enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it” (Matt. 7:13). That may be why it’s hard, but not impossible, for the rich to enter the kingdom because they have all their needs met by their money and have no perceived need of God, which is why Jesus said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:24)! If life is hard, it can humble us and drive us to our knees. If we’re in great need, it makes us see our need for God’s intervention. God never promises happiness in this life, nor does He promise an easy path to eternal life but quite the opposite. Just ask Paul someday.
The Bad Works for the Good
Once again we turn to Paul’s wisdom about life where he writes in Romans 8:28 that “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” For those who have never repented and trusted in Christ, all things work to their bad, and even the good things that happen to the unsaved will work out for their worst. For the children of God, the opposite is true. Nothing that happens, good or bad, will ever work out for our worst but for our very best, which is why God never said that the journey would be easy, but He did say that the arrival would be worthwhile.
Life is short, but eternity’s a long time. It’s a journey, but this is not our home. We are strangers in a world that, for the most part, doesn’t know God and His Son, Jesus Christ. We must run the race with endurance, so “let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1) and “run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Cor. 9:24c).