Read His Words Before Ours!
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. For the creation eagerly awaits with anticipation for God’s sons to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to futility–not willingly, but because of him who subjected it–in the hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage to decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now. Not only that, but we who have the Spirit as the firstfruits–we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:18-23)
As we have been journeying together through Romans 8, we recently read “Adopted” covering verses 15-17, which told us of our adoption as children of God and our inheritance as co-heirs with Christ, both in suffering and glory. In turning our focus to verses 18-23, we unpack what is meant by “sufferings.”
Today’s passage speaks to our innermost groanings experienced on a daily basis as we journey through life in a fallen world. Not only do we groan, but the whole of creation groans right along with us, not one aspect of creation remains unaffected by the fall. All of creation groans for a better life and a more eternal inheritance, because our world was never meant to be broken this way.
This world, according to verse 20, has been “subjected to futility.” The Greek word for futility is “mataiotēs,” and literally means “what is devoid of truth and appropriateness, perverseness, depravity, frailty, want of vigour.” Reverend Matthew Henry, a great author of Bible commentaries, further explained, “There is a present vanity to which the creature, by reason of the sin of man, is made subject. When man sinned, the ground was cursed for man’s sake, and with it all the creatures (especially of this lower world, where our acquaintance lies) became subject to that curse, became mutable and mortal, under the bondage of corruption.”
Never before has the reality of this groaning seemed as clear and tangible for me personally. As I write, I am a mere three weeks into my husband’s first deployment, a separation I know is a direct result of the fall. Were it not for sin, disease, and trial in this life, military deployments would be unnecessary and my kids and I would not be separated from our favorite person for the next several months. We are only three weeks in, but we’ve already experienced our own fair share of groaning.
Because of the fall and our disobedience, we experience a brokenness all around us in this life, a suffering which often feels too much to bear. In those moments, it’s vital to understand such misery is not doled out at the whim of a cruel God, but is the direct result of our sin.
Our sin is a slap in the face of God’s righteousness and His loving care towards us, His creation.
Our sin is not a mere mistake, accident, or “no big deal” we can just explain away.
Rather, it is something we must own, for it keeps us impossibly far from God – were it not for Christ.
The good news in the midst of this hard, sad reality is that Christ has secured for us a sonship, an adoption into the family of God which provides us with a rich inheritance. Just as we have been made alive in the Spirit, so, too, do our bodies anticipate the coming inheritance of life on a new earth.
The most blessed and encouraging part of this inheritance?
It is so rich and grand that it renders the sufferings of the here-and-now
as nothing in comparison!
Which is saying a lot, considering just how painful our sufferings can be! Yet truly, our suffering is a mere blip on the backdrop of the whole of eternity, a painful blip, yes, but nothing compared to the unimaginable joy that will be ours! (Romans 8:18)
As long as these days of deployment feel, they are nothing compared to the unending years of eternity.
As challenging as solo parenting is for me in this season, it is nothing compared to the unending joy and peace I will enjoy for eternity.
As alone as I sometimes feel right now, it is nothing compared to the unending fellowship I will have with the God of the universe and all His people for eternity.
It is true that life in this fallen world is hard.
But it is also true that hardship doesn’t get the last word.
In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul reveals how God sets about making all things new in our hearts when we come to Him in salvation. And this restorative aspect of God’s character? It will see its final and ultimate manifestation on that glorious day when the world-breaking curse is itself broken. (Revelation 21:1-5)
So, take heart, dear friend, in the midst of whatever hardship these words find you.
We’ll be home – for all eternity! – before we know it if we lay claim to the gift of Life that Jesus holds out to each of us right now!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!