Hope In Suffering
December 4, 2005
- Kerry Eidse - MDS - Hurricane Katrina.
- widespread damage of the storm. - 10 or 20 miles wide and 200 miles long,
- remember pictures of what had happened.
- “How can we explain this in God’s world?”
o If God is Lord
- more intense this year
o earthquake in Bangladesh.
- storms of life hit us personally
o loss of sight, the loss of a spouse, the loss of a driver’s licence, a debilitating fall, loss of hearing and so on.
- How can we explain these things in God’s world?
- not only ask how can we explain them,
- “how can we cope with them in our own life?”
- C&C SS class, - Romans. - Romans 8:18-30.
- a good year to look at this passage because of all the disasters
- dig into scripture to find answers for them.
- When I got hurt, as a child,
o “When you are a grandfather, it won’t hurt any more.”
o now I am a grandfather.
o trying to encourage me that someday things will be better.
- “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
o encourages us and also challenges us
o significant thoughts which speak about the world’s suffering and our own suffering.
I. Our Present Sufferings
A. Why This Suffering?
- this is what the world is like.
- Disasters happen all over the world,
- “How did it get this way?”
- Romans 8:20 - “subjected to frustration.”
- What does this mean?
o world did not get this way by itself.
o not a natural process of degeneration.
o all matter tends to decay
o “Subjected” means that the decay has been imposed.
o Someone did it to this world.
o Of course that someone is God.
- why did God do this?
- Why would he introduce destruction into something that He created so well
- 20,21 help us answer that question.
o because of our sin.
o a connection between our choice to sin and the bondage to destruction of our physical world.
o not us pitted against the world,
o the world groaning because of us
o we ourselves sharing in the pain of the present situation.
B. How Serious Is It?
- verse 20 - “subjected to frustration.”
- Most translations use the word “futility.”
o that which does not function according to design.
o world is not what God created it to be.
o We and the whole world are trapped in this situation.
o effects of aging.
§ 80 and 90 year old people running marathons.
§ birthday party of a rather spry 100 year old
§ eventually they will also die.
C. How Does It Affect Us?
- verse 23 - “we groan inwardly.”
- Verse 18 - “sufferings,”
- verse 22 - “groaning” and “the pains of childbirth.”
- Verse 23 - “groan inwardly”
- 26 - weakness.
- Although we are waiting for something infinitely better, the completion of this something better cannot come under the present order.
- We are waiting for Christ to return
- a time of renewal and restoration.
- Until that comes, the whole world and we ourselves are groaning, we are waiting and wishing.
A. We Groan, But With Hope
- daughter-in-law is expecting her second child on January 1.
- anticipating a second grandchild.
- an expectation of this exciting event.
- an expectation in our groaning as well.
o “pains of childbirth” - verse 22,
§ coming of a child, there is the pain of waiting and the pain of childbirth.
§ trials of our world bring us both the trial of pain lasting a long time and the pain itself.
§ an expectation in our groaning.
§ “Pains of childbirth” not only describes the pain, but also the expectation of something to come.
o we do not despair and become discouraged and depressed in our present suffering. We are looking forward to something better.
- What is that “better?”
o verse 18 and 30 mention the word “glory.”
o bracketed in glory.
o not coincidental.
- what glory is like.
o Verse 19 - we will be revealed as the children of God.
§ That is glory!
o Verse 21 - we will be liberated from bondage and that we will experience the glorious freedom of children of God.
§ That is glory!
o no longer be subject to death and decay.
o no longer be trapped in our sin.
o Verse 23 indicates that we will experience adoption as sons and the redemption of our bodies.
§ That also is glory!
o does not mean that we can clearly see all that will be. We can’t.
o nature of hope is that we don’t know all things
o as we face a world of destruction and difficulty whether across the globe or in our own lives,
o we do so in hope knowing that there is something better still to come.
!! B. We Groan, But With The First Fruits Of The Spirit
- God also gives us a present possession.
- God’s Spirit is living in us and is God present with us.
- presence of the Holy Spirit is a first-fruits event for us
o the beginning of the fulfillment of the promise of eternity.
o God present with us is a foretaste of what heaven will be like.
- But even in our relationship with God, there is an element of groaning.
o “Believers have the status of being children in a new intimate family relationship with God, but they are not able to communicate properly with God.”
o We know God, we know what he can do, but we can’t communicate properly with him and we don’t always know or understand what He is saying to us when we are in a time of difficulty.
o “Christians pray “Abba Father” “Their ability to pray is seriously limited by inadequate knowledge about God’s design for what is intended.”
- God’s Spirit shoulders that weakness.
o Romans 8:26-27,
§ God is in our communication with Him.
§ We cannot speak appropriately to God,
§ God’s Spirit speaks out of the depth of our heart and our unspoken prayers go up to God.
§ Holy Spirit helps us pray well beyond our conscious understanding.
§ “The image pictures depth communication which is below ordinary human consciousness.”
o Although the present time is a time of groaning, it is not a time of despair.
o Already we have the beginning of what is promised.
o Eternity is already in our hearts and present with us by the Spirit.
o The relationship to God is real because of the presence of God’s Spirit.
o One of the ways that relationship is made real is Spirit empowered prayer.
C. We Groan, But With The Knowledge Of God’s Love
- we groan,
- we do so in hope
- we do so knowing that God’s Spirit speaks prayers from our hearts to the ears of God who hears, not only our spoken groans, but the depth of our hearts desires.
- more encouragement.
- verse 28-30, -, “The agony of groaning…is answered with the assurance of glorification.”
- If a child is waiting for the fulfillment of a promise,
o there will be some impatience.
o if the child knows the parent and knows that they keep promises and knows that they are loved by the parent,
o not the fear that the promise will not be kept.
o a child who has been abused, let down, frustrated by his parents, will not have that same hope.
- What kind of a Father has made the promise?
- Can we count on Him?
- “all things work together for the good of those who love Him,”
o God keeps His promises and is working towards what is best for us.
o He is processing something within us.
o “Suffering does not lead to despair for Christians because God is working out a plan that moves through adoption as children and through suffering to glorification.”
o leading us from foreknowledge, to being conformed to the image of his son, to ultimate glorification.
o God can be trusted
o God wills and works the good for the members of His family.
- a year that has seen many disasters,
o we groan
o God gives us encouragement.
§ a relationship with Himself lived in us by the Holy Spirit
§ the promise that all our suffering will produce glorification in us.
- May this help us understand the world’s suffering and our own suffering.
- May this help us be patient
- we know God,
- we know it will get better
- we know that God is with us now.