16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.
22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for
“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;
as even some of your own poets have said,
“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.
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.