rebelling against low expectations

When Life is Hard–This Is Our Hope, Help, and Confidence

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Life makes two noises. The first noise is found in the gasps people take when witnessing sunrises, the applause they give after talented performances, and the melodies they make through song. This noise says, “life is good;” displaying the grand and infinite glory of God in all the world.

David says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).

The second noise is found in the crying that occurs when freedom is robbed, the wailing that comes with the death of a loved one, and the boom of deadly weaponry as nations clash. This noise says, “life is painful;” showing sin’s impact on the world as we know it.

Paul says, “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now” (Romans 8:22).

Yet, amidst all the pain that life holds, Paul in Romans 8 also shows us the hope, help, and confidence that we can have.

“Suffering Christians”…Or Just “Christians”?

Christians are those who are led by the Spirit. Being led by the Spirit, we are sons of God, the Spirit bearing witness to our sonship. As children, we are fellow heirs with Jesus “provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (8:17).

As God’s children, we share in the suffering of the One who suffered for us. To be Christian, is to suffer. Jesus says, “In the world you will have tribulation” (John. 16:33). We are united with Christ both in death (to sin) and life (in Christ’s resurrection) (Rom. 6:1-11; 1 Pet. 2:21; 4:12-13).

Creation groans “in the pains of childbirth” as they await for this glory to be revealed (Romans 8:22). Such groaning is demonstrated in the death of wildlife, the scorching of forests, and the destruction of flooding. Likewise, “we ourselves … groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom. 8:23).

Our Hope: Redemption

Despite the groaning which life makes and that we feel, Paul says we have a great hope: the hope of redemption. It was in this very hope which we were saved (Rom. 8:24). Our hope is not yet seen; physical and total redemption has not yet come and is still invisible to us. Instead of despairing in hopelessness, Paul shows us how this confirms our hope.

The fact that our hope is unseen legitimizes it because “who hopes in what he sees?” (Romans 8:24). I don’t hope to eat when a meal is sitting right in front of me, nor do I hope to arrive at work safely as I sit in the parking lot in front of my job. I hope to eat when the food is invisible to my eye, and I hope to arrive safely when I’m leaving my house for work. I only hope when I cannot see.

Likewise, we hope in God’s promise because we can’t see it yet. We groan inwardly at all we see–brokenness and pain–but we hope in that which we don’t see. “…if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Rom. 8:25). It’s coming!

Our Help: The Holy Spirit

As we inwardly groan, we also find ourselves weak. But we have a helper for Paul says “the Spirit helps us in our weakness” (Rom. 8:26). In our weakness, we don’t always know what we should pray, but the “Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26). Interestingly, as we groan, so does the Spirit. His intercession includes groaning which words are unable to communicate. So even as we are unsure of what we should pray for, what we should make intercession for, God Himself intercedes in our weakness.

But notice what his intercession includes: “And he who searches hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:27). God knows the content of the Spirit’s intercessions because the Spirit always intercedes for us “according to the will of God.” And God’s general will for believers is concisely laid out in the verses that follow.

Our Confidence: God Foreknew to God Will Glorify

We can be confident that God works in all things for the good of his children, those who are called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28) because:

· He has foreknown us (8:29)

· And those he foreknew, he predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus (8:29)

· And those he predestined, he called (8:30)

· And those he called, he justified (8:30)

· And those he justified, he glorified (8:30)

These truths are absolute. Despite the pain life brings and the weakness of our flesh and the times that we do not know what we ought to pray for, the Spirit intercedes with groanings according to the will of God–which is to glorify those whom God has foreknown, predestined, called, and justified–his children.Despite the pain life brings and the weakness of our flesh and the times that we do not know what we ought to pray for, the Spirit intercedes with groanings according to the will of God--which is to glorify those whom God has… Click To Tweet

Our Response: We Are More Than Conquerors

Paul then asks, “What then shall we say to these things?” (Rom. 8:31). He continues with a series of rhetorical questions that make this conclusion: “No, in all these things [from tribulation to death] we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. … [nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:37, 38).

So, as we groan inwardly and experience weakness as a result of sin, Paul reminds us that we have a sure hope in the redemption of our bodies, the Spirit’s help us in our weakness, his intercession according to his will, and the confident assurance of our glorification.

Given all these things, we can respond to life’s pain and suffering and groaning, saying, “Surely, nothing can separate us from our Father’s love in Jesus Christ our Lord!”


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About the author

Michael Longerbeam

is a freshman in college and young writer from northern Virginia. He began high school despising literature but graduated from it desiring to pursue an education in the humanities, particularly literature. He enjoys reading literature, history, and theology then discussing and writing about what he reads. You can check out some of his other writing at Soli Deo Gloria.

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