Our future glory is not light, ethereal, and floaty, but weighty, massive, and solid. It’s as weighty as the earth in multiple ways. Too many Christians have far more in common with Plato than Paul in their conception of heaven. It was the Greeks, not Jesus or Paul, who sought to be liberated from their bodies and the physical. Paul and Jesus spoke of their redemption and resurrection. The earth is both literally and figuratively tilted, eagerly awaiting our revealing (8:19), knowing that because it is our inheritance (Matthew 5:5), it will be caught up in our freedom and redemption (8:21). Where does the power for such cosmic resurrection come from? This Big Bang occurred 2000 years ago in the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Just how weighty is this future glory? So weighty that it renders our present sufferings as nothing in comparison (8:18). Paul here is not making light of our sufferings, but much of the our future glory. Give suffering is full weight and credit, don’t minimize it in any way; then think of your greatest sufferings and imagine experiencing a joy so great that when the two are place on the scales it is as if you are comparing a speck of pollen to an anvil.
But we have not yet even begun to imagine the weight Paul is calculating here. Paul is not saying that there is a glory so substantial that it outweighs your sufferings as an individual, but that it outweighs all of our collective sufferings (8:18). So gather all the tears and pains of all the saints, pile them on the scale and see it hit the ground with such a thud that it causes a fissure in the earth. Then imagine a future glory so massive that it topples and crushes the scales making all of our sufferings in comparison as particulate floating in the light of His majesty.
It isn’t that our sufferings are so small, but that this glory is so big. The future world, the new heavens and the new earth will be far more solid than this one, far more weighty.