As we journey through life, we encounter moments of profound sorrow and pain that seem insurmountable. They seem to puncture our souls so deeply, their darkness overflowing, leaving no corner untouched. Some of you may feel as if you reside in the valley of heartache, encircled by persistent sorrow.
In these trying times, you may feel akin to Job, watching the ruins of your once thriving life, the rubble of shattered dreams scattered around you. Despite possessing an enduring faith, the overwhelming devastation of your world may seem insurmountable, beyond repair. The scars appear too deep to heal, the grief too profound to console, the shadows too vast to illuminate.
The divine wisdom in Romans 8 does not instruct us to look more attentively at our suffering, straining to spot a sliver of hope. Instead, God, in His infinite wisdom, presents us with a perspective grander than this life.
Grasping the Heart of Romans 8
While Romans 8 resonates with messages of triumph and unyielding hope – “No condemnation,” “Abba! Father,” “All things work together for good,” and “More than conquerors,” also acknowledge the depths of Christian sorrow. Indeed, the zenith of Christian joy in Romans 8 is built upon the trough of intense and profound groaning.
Paul depicts this world, despite its abundant beauty, as a pregnant woman in labor, enduring excruciating pain, eagerly awaiting the birth of a new life. We, God’s chosen people, are seen as homesick children, longing for their Father’s comforting embrace. As we endure our wait, we experience the painful reality of existence – we groan.
Our groans stem from our shared human condition, a condition of mortality inherited from our forefather, Adam. We groan as our bodies deteriorate, as we lose our loved ones to debilitating diseases, as the nightmares of our reality weigh heavily on our fragile hearts. We groan as our longing for hope seems to be perpetually deferred, causing a heartache that feels terminal. Our groaning reflects the pain that occasionally obscures our vision of Christ.
However, it is vital not to dismiss these groanings with clichéd sentiments. The pains of life can sometimes render us speechless, unable to voice our prayers. We stare ahead, the horizon of our lives obscured by our silent groans.
Even so, we must not let our temporal existence bind our hopes and joys. Paul assures us that the current sufferings pale in comparison to the forthcoming glory (Romans 8:18). Glory is on its way, promising a healing balm for our groaning world.
The Advent of Glory
In our pains, we do not groan as those without hope. Our sorrows, however seemingly enduring, are birth pangs promising a glorious birth. The sufferings of our present will yield an extraordinary glory that will eclipse our dual groaning: the groaning of our frail bodies and of our distressed earth.
For now, your divine identity as God’s beloved child may be obscured by your physical frailty and your pain-ridden existence. However, the day will come when your concealed self will be unveiled. The day will arrive when you will emerge resplendent from your mortal shell, revealing the glorious child of God that you are.
You will bear witness to the miraculous healing power of glory. It will mend your broken parts, cure your incurable ailments, and wipe away your tears forever (Revelation 21:4).
Just as glory will heal us, it will also restore creation. The earth, too, awaits glory, yearning for freedom from its bondage. It anticipates the day when its barren stones will transform into streets of gold, when its trees will bear healing fruits, and when its birds will sing hymns of God’s all-conquering love in Christ (Romans 8:37–39).
The Inevitable Arrival of Glory
While we anticipate the full arrival of glory, the essence of that glory is already dwelling within us. If you belong to Christ, then the Spirit of God resides in you (Romans 8:9). The same Spirit that glorified Jesus is now a beacon of hope within you, promising that glory will ultimately transform your groans (Romans 8:23, 30).
Whenever you live according to the Spirit (Romans 8:5), you are connected to the rhythm of everlasting glory. Every time you conquer a weakness or cry out to “Abba!” in the face of loss (Romans 8:35–39), you experience a glimpse of the forthcoming glory.
Indeed, our lives may be marked by pains that seem too vast to be contained in this lifetime. Wounds may feel as though they will never heal, and hopes may seem perpetually deferred. Yet, the Spirit of glory is already among us, and the future glory will be incomparable to the suffering of the present time. Hold on to this divine promise as you navigate your trials, for glory is coming – and it is closer than you think.