Who am I?

‘Who am I?’ I remember watching Sale of the Century as a child. It was incredible to watch the contestants compete against each other in the ultimate (in my opinion) game of trivia. They were fast and knowledgeable. Often there was a runaway winner, but there were occasions where, incredibly, there was a draw. The tie-breaker question was always a ‘who am I?’ as details of someone’s life were read out and the contestants guessed who it was.

There are numerous times in the Bible where some aspect of God is described. He speaks the truth, is holy, brings justice, and is powerful. There is one place, though, that stands out.

The people have just been punished for making and worshipping a golden calf, but because of Moses’ intercession they were not destroyed. More, God would not leave them, but would travel with them as they journeyed to the Promised Land. And Moses prays, ‘Please show me your glory’ (Ex 33:18).

What does God do? Does he send thunder and lightning? Do the trumpets sound from heaven? Do angels appear to sing his praises? No. All these happen at other times, but not here. Rather than the spectacle of his power, God speaks. He explains who he is, the essence of his character.

While Moses was in the cleft of the rock in the mountain, ‘the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation (Ex 34:6-7).

This is our God. Let all people worship.

Not worth comparing

‘For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us’ (Rom 8:18).

This is an audacious verse. Can you imagine being as bold as Paul is with these words? Paul stacks up all the sufferings of this life – the sufferings of persecution, sickness, famine, war, oppression and poverty – and he decides that stacked up next to the future glory that waits for us, there is no point in comparing them. The glory so far outshines our misery that it would be futile to compare them.

Can you imagine seriously trying to compare the speed of Usain Bolt and a toddler just learning to walk? Or comparing the size of a flee to an elephant? It would be pointless, ridiculous, odd. That’s what Paul is expressing with this non-comparison.

We all know the pain of suffering. We’ve all experienced loss, sickness, heartache – and if you haven’t, that means you haven’t lived long enough. Sometimes the pain is sharp and intense, at other times it’s dull and constant.

But the glory that is to be revealed in us is so great and wondrous that these sufferings all pale into nothingness. Can you believe it? Does it sound too much? So far-fetched that Paul must be exaggerating?

The pain of this life can be intense. Whether you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one, a serious illness, financial hardship, or any other suffering, let these words fill your heart with joy. As bad as things get here, it’s not worth comparing with what will be, if only we hold on to our trust in Jesus.

It’s beyond my imagination. How can this be real? Through all our suffering, let’s hold on to Jesus and find out!