“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” Romans 8:22 In today’s show, let’s dive into a verse from one of the most well-known chapters of the Bible! Together, we will learn that while there is much groaning and waiting in our lives and labors, we are not without hope and help in the process. Tune in to hear how our pain points to a greater reality.
1) The Great 8
I am really excited to talk about Romans 8:22 with you today! Before we get to Romans 8:22 we need to get the context of Romans 8 – called ‘The Great 8’ by Pastor John Piper and often held by theologians as the ‘greatest chapter in the Bible’. So hang in there, we’re going to go through an introduction so that when we get to the verse it will make sense.
2) Life in the Flesh vs. Life in the Spirit
|LIFE IN THE FLESH||LIFE IN THE SPIRIT|
|Hostile to God||Has a dying body but an alive/living forever soul|
|Does not Submit to God’s law||In Christ|
|Cannot Please God||Belongs to Christ|
|Has a spirit of adoption|
|Heirs of God à we will see later that as heirs, we receive an inheritance of suffering and glorification|
3) We are Children & Heirs of God
What does it mean to be ‘sons & daughters of God’? *Bible study notes frequently mention that the Greek word can be translated sons and/or daughters. It’s meant to be a universal term for any person, man or woman, in God’s family.
We ARE IN the family of God, and as such are *in* Christ and heirs with Christ. Being ‘in Christ’ is also called ‘union with Christ’.
“The best blessing we receive in union with Christ, by being in Christ, is Christ Himself. We are in a living and vital relationship with our Lord and Savior. (John 15:15 , Philippians 3:8 , 1 John 1:3)” – Pastor Ben’s Study Notes
One benefit of being in Christ is to be an heir with Christ. Our inheritance as sons of God is both of suffering (now) and glorification (to come).
a. Our Future Glory
“ 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.” (ESV) Romans 8:18–19
b. Revealing of the Sons/Daughters of God
This refers to that future glorification being complete. When the new Heaven and new Earth have come and we are like Christ.
1 John 3:2  Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (ESV)
SO, WHAT ABOUT RIGHT NOW?
4) Creation is Groaning
This brings us to why you downloaded this episode, let’s talk about the visceral image Paul uses to describe the waiting we currently endure: groaning with the pains of childbirth.
The text is describing actual nature groaning. When I hear this, the image that comes to mind is a huge oak tree, bending and swaying under the weight of a strong wind – you can hear the wood crackle and almost moan under the force. Or think about natural disasters: hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes. Those are very real pictures of a creation that is tormented, groaning because the world is not as it should be. I believe this ‘groaning’ of creation also applies to us as creatures. How often have we ourselves sighed or groaned at a life circumstance, longing for Christ to return? Think about that feeling in your gut when a news headline hits you with sorrow or you’re going through a broken season of life you just wish would be made whole again. Whether for creation or creatures, that’s the feeling Paul is capturing here.
So, I want to talk to my birthy folks for a moment. It may be hard for some of us to take this ‘groaning’ image of childbirth as it is intended. Especially for the birth positive/painless childbirth movement, but remember that the Bible has this image for a reason.
When a baby is being born, the mother DOES groan that deep, low, throaty moan. She is laboring hard. She is often in pain. Even for birth professionals, it can be normal to feel ‘this baby will never come!’ ‘How long will we keep doing this!? Someone get this lady relief from her pain!’
But why do mothers do the work? Because the HOPE that the baby is coming and the knowledge that the glory of the birth of her baby far outweigh the pain of the process. What are we to do in the groaning? Wait and work in the place God has called us. As a doula I often remind mothers to take it ‘one contraction at a time’, ‘be right where you are’. This is very much an illustration of living by the spirit in a world that’s groaning.
And – there is good news!
5) Hope and Help
We are not without hope or help in our suffering.
HOPE: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
HELP: And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever. John 14:16
To apply this to birth, we know there is a great amount of hope and help to mothers in labor. Whether encouraging words of a support person, the presence of a doula, pain relief measures ranging from changing position and jumping in a tub to an epidural or cesarean – these things remind us we are not without help in times of need, pointing us to our greatest hope and help: living in Christ by power of the Holy Spirit.