We may groan now, but we won't groan forever

Recently, I have started to rekindle my habit of going to the gym regularly. It's a habit that I am optimistic I'll continue, but I also know it's an easy habit to break. Since returning to the gym, I have noticed that the sneakers I've been jogging in aren't feeling as comfortable as I'd like. My feet were feeling rather sore, so I looked online to see if I could find an inexpensive running shoe with a more cushioned sole. I found a pair and placed an order, and like a puppy waiting for his master to come home from work, I eagerly awaited their delivery. I was checking the front door every time I thought I heard a delivery truck stop in my neighborhood. My aching feet were groaning for something nicer to run in.

There's a form of groaning that we're all doing right now that might feel uncomfortable or exhausting at times. It's a groaning that shows that we're longing for something better than what we've already experienced. And we're not the only ones who are groaning. The entire creation groans along with us, waiting for restoration. The good news is that while we may be groaning now, we won't groan forever. God has good things in store for us and Romans 8:18-30 speaks about that greater glory that He has in store for those who trust Him.

I. There's a greater glory coming

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

Right now, during this particular season, we experience suffering. Suffering isn't pleasant, but it's part of our present day reality. Suffering isn't something we usually choose to invite into our lives, and I'm sure that a large percentage of our prayers relate to the alleviation of our suffering or the alleviation of the suffering of those we care about.

Some years ago, a woman shared this in Reader's Digest...

At the busy dental office where I work, one patient was always late. Once when I called to confirm an appointment, he said, "I'll be about 15 minutes late. That won't be a problem, will it?"

"No," I told him. "We just won't have time to give you an anesthetic.'

He arrived early.

-Contributed by Terri Spaccarotelli, Reader's Digest, June, 1992, p. 145

For those who trust Jesus, the suffering we may experience now (including the suffering we may endure at the hands of those who persecute us), isn't something we'll have to endure forever. In fact, as the Scripture tells us, the sufferings of this present time can't even compare to the glory that the Lord has in store for His children.

I like having things to look forward to. In fact, I actually try to be intentional about placing things on my upcoming schedule that I can look forward to. I also think God knows we like having better things to think about related to our future. For that reason, He tells us about what He has in store. He tells us about a future day when we won't be required to endure suffering. He tells us about a future day when we will be glorified and sinless in His presence forever. Even the greatest joys of the present age cannot compare with the good things God has in store for all who walk with Him.

Creation itself is also groaning and eagerly anticipating this coming day of restoration. At present, this creation is under a curse. It was subjected to this curse when man, who had been entrusted with dominion over creation, rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden. When we rebelled and became sinners, we became objects of God's wrath, and this creation was placed under a curse that made it subject to decay. But this is only for a season. The day is going to come when creation will be restored. On a future day, we will be given glorified bodies and both Heaven and Earth will be made new. The sting and effect of sin will no longer have dominion over redeemed humanity and the redeemed creation.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”
— Revelation 21:1-3, ESV

I don't know what you may be enduring right now, but however heavy it may be, don't forget what the Lord has revealed to us in passages like this. There's a greater glory up ahead for those who know Jesus. Right now we wait for this greater glory to be revealed, but we will see what we're waiting patiently for.

II. We will see what we're waiting patiently for

For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
— Romans 8:24-25, ESV

Not long ago, I saw a story posted online about a major highway accident that occurred about an hour from where I live. In the midst of the coldest part of our winter, a series of blinding snow squalls began working their way through our state. Those who had the misfortune of driving during these squalls were severely impacted and a chain-reaction accident occurred on an area highway because, without much warning, drivers who were traveling at high speeds were suddenly unable to see in front of them.

Sight is a gift that not everyone possesses. The sense of sight, for those who have it, tends to be one of the primary senses we rely on to get through life. In fact, over time, we gradually learn to depend on our sight more so than we depend on many other things. If we can see things, we believe them. If we can't see them, we usually don't believe.

Unfortunately, this dependence on sight can transform our perspective on how sight is to be used. Instead of treating our sight as a gift to be used for God's glory, we can often begin treating our sight as an idol to be worshipped. In fact, there are many people who reject the very notion of God's existence simply because they cannot see Him.

But there are things we cannot see through natural means that God longs to show us. Scripture teaches us that Satan blinds the eyes of those who don't believe, but we're also taught that the Holy Spirit combats Satan's activity so we can begin seeing spiritual truths that we were once blind to. We were once blind to our need for the Savior, but now the Holy Spirit has opened our eyes to see our need for Jesus. We were once blind to the fact that there is much more to life than what we've presently experienced during this age, but now through faith in Christ, we're enabled to look forward to the future with a confident hope.

The day will come when we will see what we've been patiently waiting for. In the meantime, the Lord invites us to rely on Him fully. In fact, because we may struggle with temptation and weak spiritual sight, He offers us His divine help to make up for our weaknesses.

III. We have divine help to make up for our weaknesses

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 
— Romans 8:26-27, ESV

Scripture teaches us that the Holy Spirit gladly helps us in our weakness. He counsels us, grants us wisdom, empowers us, and prays for us. In fact, I'm sure we've all experienced seasons when we knew we should be praying, but we weren't sure just how. Or maybe our grief was so heavy that the only thing we could manage to utter was a painful cry. The Lord understands this, and through His Spirit, He helps us.

In a way that seems both fascinating and mysterious to me, the Holy Spirit prays for those who are the children of God through faith in Christ. He intercedes on our behalf in a deeper way than our natural words could express. And when He lifts us up in prayer, He does so in a way that aligns with His divine nature. He prays for us in accordance with the will of God. Our requests may not always be in line with God's will, but the Spirit who knows all things, makes up for our weaknesses by praying on our behalf in a way that is in line with God's will.

I find this both comforting and assuring. I'm grateful that my well-being doesn't rest on my ability to carry myself. We have the divine help of the Holy Spirit to make up for our weaknesses, and the word of God assures us that everything is going to work out together for our good in the end.

IV. It's all going to work out in the end

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
— Romans 8:28-30, ESV

I once heard that one of the big differences between movies that are popular in America and movies that are popular in some other regions of the world, is that Americans prefer movies with happy endings that resolve loose ends. I can't speak for those who live in other parts of the world, but as for myself I think that's generally true. I enjoy happy endings and resolution.

And I'm grateful for the promises we're given in Romans 8:28-30. These are promises that are specific for those who love God. These are assurances that have been given to those who have received the gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. The promise we're given here states that all things will work together for our good because God holds our lives and our futures securely in His hand. Our lives, our hopes, and our futures don't come down to our ability to hold onto them together in our own naturally derived strength. These are things that God is orchestrating, empowering, and ordaining.

This Scripture reveals to us that the children of God are not a mystery to God. Before you were even born, He knew you, He called you, and He predestined you to become like Christ. Now, through faith in Jesus, we're declared righteous in God's sight and we're assured of future glory in His presence.

These are encouraging things to read, but they're even more encouraging to believe and live out. I don't know what this season of life has looked like for you, but whether this has been your favorite or your least favorite season of life, continue to refresh your heart with these promises. We may groan now, but we won't groan forever.

© John Stange, 2019