We live in a broken world, a world that is not fully what God intended for it to be. Last week, I said that we live between the first two chapters of the Bible and the last two chapters. The first two chapters describe the beauty and perfection of God’s creation. The last two chapters describe the restoration of God’s beauty and perfection to his creation. For now though, we live between these two periods. Our world has “been subjected to frustration” (Romans 8:20) due to mankind’s sinfulness. Adam’s sin not only affected the human race, but also the environment he was given stewardship over – planet earth. While this world contains many joys and surprises, there is a level of frustration that envelops it. We watch and see illnesses, natural disasters, droughts, etc. that plague our planet and our lives. We see untimely deaths and gross injustice. This is all a result of man’s sin that plunged all of creation into a fallen state.
It will not remain this way forever though. God will restore order. As I wrote last week, creation itself is waiting to be “liberated from its bondage to decay” (Romans 8:21). Paul further characterized creation’s wait for its release from captivity like this: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” (Romans 8:22)
Paul describes much of the trouble and travail of our times as the pains of childbirth. Labor is a painful for process for women to go through. In the end though, it is all worth it when the baby comes. The mother does not push her baby aside because of all the pain he/she caused. There is joy when the baby finally appears. It may sound odd, but this world is in the midst of childbirth right now. There are groans and pains, but ultimately God will bring forth complete restoration that will be so glorious in comparison to any of our troubles here on earth. So creation is groaning, waiting for a time that has yet to come.
And you and I groan as well. “We ourselves who have the first fruits of spirit groan inwardly as we eagerly await for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23). As Christians, something inside of us groans knowing that there is something more, something better that will be coming. Paul said we have the first fruits of the spirit. This means that we have a pledge that there is more to come. First fruits were like a down payment guaranteeing there is more to be given. The Spirit of God is a taste of heaven reminding you that there is more to this life than this life. So for now, we walk in a sinful world and when we see the damage and effects of sin, we just groan. We groan as we wait for more.
We are not alone though. Read as Paul continues his thoughts: “In the same way, the spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26). As you groan, the Spirit inside of you groans. You don’t have to carry the burden of living in a fallen world by yourself. There is a Helper who lives inside of you and groans with you. And amazingly enough, God hears those groans and they become a perfect prayer that he hears — “and he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Romans 8:27).
So when we see calamity, what do we do. We groan and the Spirit groans with us. We wait patiently for God’s plan of restoration, and we wait eagerly. That day is coming. God promises! And that’s the Word.
The Rev. David Yarborough is pastor of St. Simons Community Church. Contact him at david@ sscommunitychurch.org or 634-2960.