I can imagine brother Paul suffered quite a bit. If this had come from some fat cat stadium preacher, it would not sound believeable. But coming from Pauk, it makes sense. Paul nearly died suffering for the faith. In fact, some argue he did die outside of Lystra, having been stoned and left for dead. Have you ever had enemies that hate you so much they drag you out of town and throw rocks at you until they are sure you are dead? Yeah, me neither.
So when Paul says the sufferings of the present time cannot be compared with the joys of life to come, I can believe him. Many of us have been through some suffering. Whether it be physical pain, like a serious medical ailment, or it is mental anguish, like a family relationship that hurts the soul. We suffer a bit every day. We know what it is like to suffer. So we have a hard time imagine that there is no comparison. We have suffered much. How dare Paul belittle what we have been through.
But you see, he suffered too. And yet in that same suffering, he caught a glimpse of those glories to come. It was precisely as he lay there, stoned to death, that some believe he was caught up to the third heaeven, and heard things that cannot be spoken as he describes in 2 Corinthians 12. It is similar to folks that I have talked too who describe their own journey to heavenly realms and come back. They describe the joys and glories of that place far more wonderful than can be put into words. And sometimes, despite their family and health and wealth on this side, there is a longing for that place that nothing on this side compares with.
I believe that brother Paul points to that experience for himself when he tells us there is no comparison. It will all be worth the struggle, the pain and the suffering of this present life. Paul hints here that if we truly knew what waited for us, no suffering would seem too great. There is comfort in this, since many of us have come through great suffering.
Dear Heavenly Father, we come before you this morning with heads bowed, many of us in the midst of great anguish and sorrow of heart. We truly do not know how much more we can take, and would that you lighten our burden a bit so that we could brrathe. Brother Paul reminds us this morning of just how wonderful it will be in glory, and we cannot wait to see you face to face. But until then, we know we have a purpose and a plan to fulfill. Let us pray for strength for this journey, peace in our hearts, and hope for the world to come. If brother Paul was so inspired as to journey to Rome for the sake of the gospel, grant us that same inspiration to choose to follow you in our day to day. We pray these things in Jesus’ Name, Amen.