If you are in Christ, then you have experienced just a little taste of what is to come—“the firstfruits of the Spirit” as the apostle Paul puts it. And this taste of the Lord and His glory are so overwhelming, especially in comparison to the bitter flavor of this world, that we long for the fulfillment of the kingdom right here, right now. We’re trying to grab the remote and fast-forward through all the pain and suffering, but that is not how God intended it. For the moment, for that is what it really is when this life is stacked up against eternity, we have been called to suffer. “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21 ESV).
But we suffer in hope. We have heard and believe that “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17 ESV). So between the two comings of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are to patiently wait and even embrace our cross realizing the greater good that it is accomplishing within us. We are to man-up in our present calling not trying to insulate ourselves from God-ordained trials. I love Michael Horton’s encouraging words:
“The kingdom is present, but not yet fully present. Only if we hold in slight esteem the forgiveness of sins, rebirth into the new creation, justification, sanctification, and the communion of saints can we fail to revel in these present realities of Christ’s reign. In his resurrection, Christ has inaugurated the final resurrection of the dead. Already the verdict of the last judgment is being rendered in the present. Those who believe in Christ are already declared righteous, and those who do not are already condemned (John 3:16-19, 36). ‘There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ (Rom. 8:1, emphasis added). The decisive verdict of the last day is already known for all who believe the gospel.
Furthermore, the renewal of the whole creation has already begun with the new birth, raising us from the spiritual death and seating us with Christ by grace alone (Eph. 2:1-7). The Spirit’s indwelling in our hearts is the down payment on our final resurrection and the renewal of creation (Rom. 8:20-23), ‘for in this hope we were saved’ (v. 24). Yet we do not yet see these full effects of Christ’s kingdom, Paul reminds us. ‘But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience’ (v. 25)” (The Gospel Commission, 68).