22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 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. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright (c)2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. http://www.esv.org
For a pregnant woman, groaning is not difficult. It’s the default. Her groans reflect a simple reality: she is not satisfied with the way things are, and she longs for what is yet to come. For nine months, a pregnant woman lives with the tension between a painful present and a joyful future. In Romans 8, Paul reminds us that pregnant women are not alone in their groaning. 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 our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies (vv. 22-23). Ever since the Fall, groaning has been the default for creation. It should be the default for humanity. But for many, it’s not.
Why do we not groan? We don’t groan because we lose touch with the way things are. We turn away and pretend that slavery, addiction, racism, and violence are not crushing realities in this broken world. We don’t groan because we’re comfortable enough in this world that we don’t long for another. In the words of C.S. Lewis, we are “like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” We don’t groan because we forget all that the Lord has promised that is still yet to come. In the midst of all that’s old and broken, we struggle to imagine how God could make all things new (Revelation 21:5). We don’t groan because the desire for our little kingdom eclipses the desire for “Your kingdom come”. Actually, we never really stop groaning. Godly groaning simply morphs into selfish complaining about our circumstances.
If pregnancy is so difficult, so full of groaning, why do women go through with it? Among many answers to that question, consider one: the joy of holding her child is both the reason behind and the fulfillment of all the groaning. When a mother is finally united with her child, it is an indescribable joy. We must remember this, especially when we’re tempted to choose an easier life free from groaning. If life in Christ is so full of groaning, why would we go through with it? We press on because we are not satisfied with the mess or the mud pies, and we long for what is yet to come. We press on for the joy of seeing the Lord Jesus Christ face to face. We press on for the joy of gathering around the throne with His redeemed people from every tribe and nation. We press on because when we are finally united with the Lord, it will be the fulfillment of all our groaning…and His. We press on because we are His beloved children, pregnant with hope.