Life is hard. There’s no other way to say it: Life is hard.
We all acknowledge that life is hard, full of ups-and-downs with occasions and seasons of hardship. We know this because we have all experienced, in one way or another, pain beyond explanation. So, we can all agree that life is hard, but there is not a consensus on how things will be made right, made to the way they should be.
Here are four common views, in our time, on pain in this world:
1. Some argue that “time heals.”
2. Some say that “pain can be avoided through detachment from all things.”
3. Some state that “pain is because you lack faith.”
4. And some people say that “nothing matters anyway, so don’t worry about it.”
They’re wrong. All of those views are horribly flawed.
Today’s blog post centers on Romans 8:23-25. As you’ll see, this text acknowledges that life is hard but that there is hope.
[Verse 23 starts with saying “Not only that,” which refers directly back to verses 19-22. To further understand that text, I wrote a post called The Creation Groans For Freedom]
Again, we all know that life is hard, and verse 23 starts by acknowledging that:
“we ourselves who have the Spirit as the firstfruits — we also groan within ourselves”
Romans 8:23a (bolding added)
The bolding was added for you to focus on the word “groan.” In the context of this chapter, when “groan” is used it is for the imagery of groaning in pain. So, this immediately acknowledges that pain is present and it is severe enough to warrant a “groan.”
So, we groan. But, what are we groaning for?
Quick Side-note: The author of Romans, Paul, is writing to Christians (“we ourselves who have the Spirit”). It doesn’t infer that non-Christians don’t have pain, but rather he is setting up the Hope that Christians have due to their faith.
Waiting For Adoption, Redemption
The ending of verse 23 tells us what we groan for:
“eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.”
Romans 8:23b (bolding added)
We await adoption and for the redemption of our bodies. This is way more than you may see at first… I’ll explain.
Adoption is significant because the Bible describes our standing before God without repentance and faith in Jesus Christ like this: enemies of God (Romans 5:10), alienated from God (Colossians 1:21), and separated from God (Isaiah 59:2).
Adoption is then radical because through faith in Christ we are family not enemies, reconciled to God not alienated, united with Christ not separated. Through God saving sinners (Ephesians 1:4-6, John 1:11-13), God finds the lost and gives the Holy Spirit to make them his eternal family (Galatians 4:4-7).
Redemption is significant because the Bible describes our state without repentance and faith in Jesus Christ like this: slaves to sin (John 8:34), hating our God (John 3:20), and dead in our sin (Ephesians 2:1).
Redemption is miraculous because through faith in Christ we are free from sin not slaves, loving and following God not hating him, and alive in Christ not dead in sin. God’s redemption in this life is of our hearts to God, and the redemption to come will include our entire bodies from the effects of sin.
To those who are disabled, including myself: God can and does redeem in this life but all of us will experience full and eternal bodily redemption. If you’re in Christ, your body will be healed… in this life or in your eternal one.
As we groan in pain during this life, we wait for adoption and redemption. And, the reason that is our hope is because it fulfills all of our needs: spiritual and physical.
So, as we wait for this hope, how do we wait? And, why should I wait?
Waiting With Patience
How do we wait until we experience the full adoption and redemption:
“we eagerly wait for it with patience.”
Romans 8:25b (bolding added)
Waiting patiently is hard. Anyone who has spent time at a DMV or Social Services office knows this. But, the author of Romans, Paul, tells us why its especially hard to wait patiently for the return of Christ:
“Now in this hope we were saved, but hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? Now if we hope for what we do not see”
The hope we have in the return of Christ is not something you tangibly see with your eyes. The promise for redemption in Christ is something we hope for even when life gets really hard. A bad medical diagnosis, diminishing physical abilities, or any other trial in life makes believing in the redemption of all things hard to believe at times.
Then why should you continue to believe all things will be made right?
Because God promised to do it. And, God always follows through.
The best way to see if someone is trustworthy is to look at their history, and God passes this with perfection. A quick survey of the Bible and you’ll see this: God promised to send a Savior to defeat Satan (Genesis 3:15), God promised to make nation and people through Abraham (Genesis 12:2-3), God promises to provide the Promised Land (Genesis 15:18-21), God promised to save his children (John 3:16), etc.
The last promise is to return and make all things new (Revelation 21:3-7).
Time doesn’t heal our wounds, God does and will. Pain cannot be avoided but, through Jesus, it can be redeemed. Pain is not a lack of faith, it’s a part of life that God uses to redeem all things. And, your pain does matter to God and He has promised to finish his redemption through the consummation of God’s creation.
We groan in this life but God has promised eternity of praise.