Suffering with Christ

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. … And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:16–19, 23-25)

Digging deeper into word translations:

     consider – take inventory
     firstfruits – a beginning of

So what?

Romans 8 has the whole good news of Jesus in one chapter. Love this chapter! 

But there has been one piece that has confused me. “…fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him…” 

Jesus’ sacrifice was once for all. So that can’t be what Paul means here. But if I add what he said in Colossians, it makes it clearer.

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church… (Col 1:24)

Paul adds the thought that it’s for the church. There is a purpose to our suffering. Just like there was for Jesus. The church. 

As JB Phillips said “you have been adopted into the very family circle of God.” We continue here. We suffer here. We “groan inwardly” here. For family. For brothers and sisters who have not joined us yet. 

The Lord knows exactly what he asks of us. He was here. He knows. He has gifted us wth his Spirit to give us all we need – to strengthen and guide us. The Holy Spirit helps us to take that inventory, look to the future, and focus on the glory. He is the first gift of that glory to come.

And then when the day comes and he returns 

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev 21:4)

Praise God!