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. 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 8:18–25)
So far in our consideration of Romans 8 we’ve seen Paul’s distinction between “the flesh” and “the Spirit”. We’ve see how those who live in accordance with the Spirit are, in fact, those who are adopted by God as children of God. They are fellow heirs with Jesus, awaiting a share in his glory.
Paul then goes on to address an obvious question: why, then, are things so rubbish now?! If I am a child of God, why do I suffer now? As urgent as this question is today, it was even more urgent in Paul’s day where many were dying for their new-found faith in Christ.
The answer is that we are part of a creation which has been affected by sin and is in “bondage to corruption”. We see natural disaster all around, and I need only mention the coronavirus to make the point that we are part of a creation which has been “groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now”. The Christian understanding is that the fall of the human race affects all of creation.
But we also know this not the end of the story. We “wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies”. Whilst those around us might count their lives in decades, we count ours in eternity. So we hope. And we “wait for it in patience”. More of that on Wednesday.