Some things shouldn't be compared because doing so is unhealthy. Some things can't be compared because they are just not in the same category.
And some things are not worth comparing because they are so utterly far apart from one another on the spectrum that any kind of comparison is just ridiculous. My figure skating and Kristi Yamaguchi's, for example (yes, I'm dating myself). I can barely wobble, standing up. She is an Olympic gold medalist. There is no comparison worth talking about.
That is the kind of comparison Paul has in mind in the next section of Romans 8, verses 16 through 25. Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. On the spectrum of amazing and awesome, they are not even close. In saying this, Paul didn't minimize the suffering of the first century followers of Jesus. Persecution ranged from being ostracized from family and friends to being killed. On the contrary, he knew exactly how hard they had it, and his intention was to encourage them to focus on the rest of the story, and to see themselves as part of that larger pageantry of world history that began with Creation and continues today. If we have come to faith in Christ, then our destiny is glory. Not our own greatness, but the greatness of who God is, revealed in us.
How does that happen? Through our salvation, to be sure. Through our sanctification. Someday, when Jesus returns, through the resurrection of our bodies and the new Heaven and new Earth. And when "someday" feels a long way off, we are reminded by the Holy Spirit's work in our lives that even though life this side of Heaven feels dirty and hard, we really are God's children, and you can't be a child of the king without inheriting the kingdom someday. When life feels dirty and hard, it's because it is, and that is why the Son of God came to live the dirty, hard life as well. When we suffer, we know that He did as well, and just as His suffering didn't end in defeat, neither will ours. It will end in glory.
There were two books I read in the year after Naomi's death that helped me with this perspective. One was The Shack, a book about a man who loses his daughter in a terrible crime and who meets with God in a very unique way that helps him to understand His love even in the midst of that tragedy. The other was Finally Home by Randy Alcorn, about believers in China who are persecuted for their faith, told from both the perspective of those living on Earth and those martyrs watching from Heaven. Both books are works of fiction, and both have their theological difficulties (please, no debate here), but God used both in my life to remind me that this side of heaven is NOT all there is. This is one part, one very important part, but the rest of the story is so much greater.
Does that make me miss my babies less? No. But it is part of the "grieving with hope" lesson that I am still learning. I grieve with hope because I know I will see them again, because I know that the Spirit is stronger than anything else trying to control my mind and my heart, and because even this in all of its awfulness does not compare, at all, to the glory that has been revealed in their lives already and that will be revealed in mine.
So my Thanksgiving praise for today, the day before Thanksgiving, is that my suffering today will seem like nothing when His glory is revealed to me and in me. It sure doesn't feel like "nothing" now, and this side of heaven, it isn't nothing.
So saying that, and living it, is an act of faith and, as Paul says in verse 24, an expression of hope in what God has promised, in what waits for us.
How does having an eternal perspective change your day to day walk?