Text: Romans 8:18-27
18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes[c] with sighs too deep for words. 27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
In this passage, Paul speaks about the suffering that we must endure in the present time. I’m sure he must have been thinking about all the things that are common to mankind that cause him/her distress, weakness, alienation, sorrow, and illness. Also human conflict in politics, the neighborhood, and, yes, in church. This is not to mention hunger, war, drought, and such. Paul said that we suffer through these things, but he also says that the Creation suffers which we see in storms, earthquakes, and tornadoes.
Because of the Spirit’s work in our lives, we know that there is more to this life than what we experience in the present. This knowledge is the basis for our hope. It is also the reason we wait.
by Septimus Winner, 1868
Soft as the voice of an angel,
Breathing a lesson unheard,
Hope with a gentle persuasion
Whispers her comforting word:
Wait till the darkness is over,
Wait till the tempest is done,
Hope for the sunshine tomorrow,
After the shower is gone.
Whispering hope, oh, how welcome thy voice,
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.
If, in the dusk of the twilight,
Dim be the region afar,
Will not the deepening darkness
Brighten the glimmering star?
Then when the night is upon us,
Why should the heart sink away?
When the dark midnight is over,
Watch for the breaking of day. [Refrain]
Hope, as an anchor so steadfast,
Rends the dark veil for the soul,
Whither the Master has entered,
Robbing the grave of its goal;
Come then, oh, come, glad fruition,
Come to my sad weary heart;
Come, O Thou blest hope of glory,
Never, oh, never depart. [Refrain]
Father in Heaven, We see all the distress in our world – hunger, pollution, corruption, and sickness, to name a few. And we weep because of the suffering it causes. We know you see this, and we ask you to walk with us through this valley. Whisper comfort to us the way that you did to Judah. Remind us of the vision we are living in and the ultimate goal of the restoration of our world. Bring your kingdom to us soon. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Find a group that is doing good work to ease suffering. Make a Christmas donation to them, and pray for their success in outreach.