Hi, Rob here. Over the last few weeks I’ve prayed for three children; one with a serious injury and two others struck down by viruses. I’ve seen tragic events unfold in Iraq as hundreds of thousands flee brutal and bloody violence committed in the name of God. A report came out here in New Zealand detailing just how severe our problem with child abuse really is. It makes me think of Paul’s words in Romans 8:22-24:
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.
These verses help me so much! I am groaning. I groan at injustice and suffering and pain. I groan when I hear that another dad has left the family. I groan when my creaky back gives me trouble. I groan when I hear of another war, or more economic exploitation or the plundering of this good earth. But to know that the groaning is actually a sign of hope is utterly redemptive. The childbirth image reminds us that pain can lead to joy, and also that the joy is very near! The pain is an invitation to hope.
Our groaning is a sign that our hearts have been made for the kingdom of God. Because our hearts now belong to Jesus our king, we are only fully at home in his kingdom. It is only when he is reigning fully over his realm that the groaning will end. Take note also that the hope is redemption not destruction. Jesus describes the kingdom as “the renewal of all things (Matt. 19:28).” Nothing is lost except evil. The goodness, the beauty, the joy we glimpse now will be ours a hundred fold in the coming kingdom. Here’s the cool part. We are a sign of that kingdom. We point to it.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice , but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage of decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God (Romans 8:18-21).
Read it again. Slowly. The creation is waiting for us, the children of God, to be revealed so that it can enter into our freedom and glory. We are meant to be leading the whole creation into liberation and renewal because we have been liberated and renewed by Jesus Christ. That is amazing is it not? This is why it’s so important that we learn to live out of our new hearts and embrace our identity as sons and daughters of the Living God. Creation depends on it! That is not just trees and lakes and mountains, but nations and families and individuals who, right now, are desperate for hope. All will be renewed but we are asked to show the creation, the world, what that renewal looks like through the way we live. This has to be led by the Spirit. We can’t do it without walking closely with Jesus and having our own hearts healed and set free. Paul writes that,
…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God (Romans 8:26-27).
That groaning inside of us is the Spirit of God groaning with us and for us. They are the prayers of our hearts and incense before the throne of God. They are a cry for the kingdom to come, for God’s will to be done on earth as in heaven. They are a cry with the saints of Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus. Let your heart groan and let hope inside of you this week.