“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:18-23 ESV)
Today is an inner groaning day. In the face of my own depravity and that of our culture, I sense the inner groaning for the final and ultimate redemption. This adoption as sons and daughters that is ours in Christ Jesus.
I have most often looked at this text in Romans 8 as an indication of the brokenness of creation, of nature. Why storms rage, why the ground quakes, why animals kill and why poison exists. I know it is very unscientific, but it all combines into further evidence for me that these words are true.
But this morning I am struck by two realizations; 1) humanity is part of the creation subjected to futility and people are groaning as in the pains of childbirth, and 2) we, even in Christ, justified and claimed, still groan.
All of the silly pursuits of life, the “perfect body,” the financial stability, the intellectual prowess, increasing pleasure and all the other things we run after are a result of this groaning. Because we, creation, know in the deepest parts of ourselves that something is missing, we try will all the gusto we can muster to be “filled.” It may sound cliche that the only thing, or person that will satiate these groans, this longing for something more is Jesus but it is true. But not only the selfish trappings of life are a result of this groaning, ever the evils of our culture have the guttural markers of creation groaning.
Those that murder long for control, or can’t constrain their violence because of something that is missing. The doctor that murders innocents in the name of research and freedom is expressing a groaning response to oppression or harm they feel in their soul. Hatred for those that a genetically or socially different that ourselves, roots itself in a desire to be better. And the glorification of what was once labeled despicable is cherished in the hopes that fulfillment will finally be achieved.
Those things, both evil and normative culturally, will not stop the groaning. And in many instances the groaning will only grow stronger because it is freedom in Christ, redemption that we actually long for, whether we know it or agree with it.
This reality changes how we care for the neighbor, the respectable sinner and the flagrant doer of evil. We know they groan whether they know they do or not, and it is grace we can give them to meet and resolve the longing.
At the same time, we know that we too, those that have faith in Jesus, those that have been redeemed by his work on the cross and given new life through his resurrection, groan. An inner groaning, waiting for completion.
It is what stirs tears at the site of fetal remains discussed as a commodity. It is what engenders grief over our own sinful pursuits of fulfillment apart from Christ. And it is the groaning that motivates us to share the love we have been granted in Jesus empowered by the Spirit that groans on our behalf.
So where are you? Still in the realm of misunderstood groaning, forcing yourself to claim things that are untrue or run after things that will leave you empty all in the hopes that just one will finally resolve the pangs. Friend, come to Jesus. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Be filled.
Or are you secure, claimed and in Christ, but face the inner turmoil of living among the groaning creation. The images that disturb, the evil that pervades. Stand firm friend, brother or sister. Know that this suffering, this groaning, is not worth comparing to the glory set to be revealed to us. It is a sure thing. Final, complete adoption as sons and daughters as the creation’s groaning ceases and all things are made new.
Come Lord Jesus come.