For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Rome will be Paul’s final destination, several years after having written the Letter to the Romans. Already by the time of this writing, Paul had suffered a great deal of hardship and persecution. He had faced many difficulties, yet he maintained a deeply spiritual perspective. In 2 Corinthians 4, which Paul wrote very closely to when he wrote Romans, he said about the wasting away of the body, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” Paul looked at suffering and persecution as part and parcel of our transition from being earthly to being eternal. For him, passing through suffering on the way to glory was imitation of Christ—it was something to be sought after for the sake of being more like Him (Philippians 3:8-11). It was joy.
In our particular context today, we do not face anything like what Paul and other ancient Christians faced in their day. At the same time, we do have opportunity to experience the joy of imitating Christ in the face of difficult circumstances. This is not to say that suffering is our only joy—far from it. We have much to celebrate in good happenings and success and the like. Yet because of what Christ has modeled for us, and because of the pure hope of a future with God, whatever we may have to confront in this life pales in comparison to the promises under which we live. God is so very good to us!