The Aches, the Pain, and the Coming Glory

by Kathy Howard

For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. Romans 8:22 NASB

You know you’re getting old when just simply bending over elicits an automatic groan. My list of bodily aches, pains, and scars grows longer each year. The most recent sign of high mileage on my body is a small tear in my right rotator cuff. Thankfully, the doctor believes I can avoid surgery with physical therapy. But I’m definitely feeling the wear and tear of many decades of living.

Like our physical bodies, the world and everything in it suffers death, decay, and corruption. Sin has left its mark everywhere. God’s creation groans under the weight of it, eagerly longing for the full consummation of God’s great salvation. On that day, when God glorifies His children, He will also set creation free from its bondage. But until then, we wait.

The phrase “the now and the not yet” is often used to describe our current state of salvation. In this life, we experience forgiveness, reconciliation with God, the power to live godly lives, and more. Yet, we still wait for the full realization of our salvation. We wait for the end of suffering and the resurrection and glorification of our physical bodies. But we won’t receive it all until Jesus returns. Salvation already belongs to us, but we don’t yet hold it all in our hands.

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23).

In Romans 8, Paul contrasted our present suffering with our future glory to show the now and not yet. Now, we share in Christ’s sufferings, later we will share in His glory (Romans 8:17). Yes, God allows trials in the lives of His children, but He does not waste them. God works through them for His purposes. Like heat refines precious metals, God shapes us to look more and more like Jesus (Romans 8:28-29). But this transformation will not be complete until Jesus returns.

On that day, believers who have died will be “raised in glory” and those still living will be transformed in the “twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:43, 51-54). Our resurrected bodies will be transformed into the imperishable, immortal likeness of Jesus’ heavenly body. It is then that we will experience the full consummation of our adoption as God’s children. We will finally hold all the blessings of our salvation.

In the meantime, we wait, and we groan. But we also hope. We live in the now and the not yet. The seen and the unseen—what we experience in the present and hope for in the future. As we look forward and contemplate our glorious future with Christ, we see our present difficulties in their proper perspective.

“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” 2 Corinthians 4:17 NLT

This post is adapted from Kathy’s soon-to-be-released devotional “Deep Rooted: Growing through the Book of Romans,” coming October 2022 from Bold Vision Books.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Kathy Howard is a treasure hunter. She hunts for the creamiest chocolate, richest coffee, and cherished stories of faith. She also digs deep into Scripture, mining God’s eternal truths. Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education and has taught the Bible for more than 30 years in a wide variety of venues. Kathy is the author of 11 books, including “Heirloom: Living and Leaving a Legacy of Faith” and the “meaty” devotional series “Deep Rooted.” Kathy and her husband live in north Texas. They have three married children, six grandchildren, and two accidental dogs. Find free discipleship resources at www.KathyHoward.org.

Deep Rooted: Growing Through the Book of Acts: A 50-Day Devotional Journey by [Kathy Howard]

Here’s more about “Deep Rooted: Growing through the Book of Acts”: Pack your bags and join Kathy Howard for the journey of a lifetime. You’ll experience the powerful arrival of the Holy Spirit, witness the birth of the church, and walk the dusty roads alongside those first missionaries as they boldly share the Gospel of Jesus with the world. 

Join the conversation:  What do you look forward to the most in eternity?

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A Diamond in the Rough

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

I stared in horror at the empty setting on my engagement ring. My diamond was gone.

This called for immediate action. I turned to my classroom full of second graders. “I will give five dollars to the person who finds my diamond,” I promised. Twenty-five children scrambled across the carpeted floor, determined to locate the prize. It wasn’t three minutes before one of the boys shouted, “I found it!”

I handed the reward over gratefully. Getting my stone back was well worth the incentive price. Of course, its value to me was sentimental, but replacing it would have been beyond what we could have afforded at the time. Diamonds are not cheap.

There’s a reason that diamonds are a girl’s best friend. They are the hardest natural substance found on the earth. They can only be scratched by other diamonds and hold a polish indefinitely. Their ability to reflect light has always made them highly desirable gemstones.

Diamonds were originally carbon-bearing material which was chemically changed by heat and pressure one hundred miles beneath the surface of the earth. This means the atoms which formed the original substance formed new chemical bonds within each molecule. The change is permanent. Many diamonds have imperfections, which are actually pieces of carbon which remain unaltered from their original state.

Scripture tells us that at the moment of our salvation, a tremendous change takes place in us as well. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV). We have been permanently altered from our old state. We used to walk according to the flesh, but now we walk according to the Spirit, because He dwells within us. We went from slaves to sin to adopted sons of the Living God (Romans 8).

But God is not yet finished with us. The point at which we became a new creation was only the beginning. Just like with a diamond, there are imperfections, left-over parts of us that He is transforming into the image of Jesus Christ. Paul told the Philippians, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6 NIV).  Like a skilled diamond cutter, God is continually chipping off our rough edges, cutting facets in His precious “stones” to allow His glory to be reflected in ever-increasing volume.

Sometimes those cuts can be painful. We don’t like the process. But eventually we can look back to the circumstances which contributed to our sanctification and marvel at how God worked to change us. “He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:10-11 NASB).

And the beauty of what He is creating far surpasses even the most brilliant of diamonds, because the result will be the ability to perfectly reflect the brilliance of His glory.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.                                                                                                    2 Corinthians 3:18 NASB

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A Diamond in the Rough – @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to
understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Womenwas published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Join the conversation: What changes have you seen in yourself that are a result of God at work in you?