Summary: In this sermon I address the idea of complaining and groaning in a decaying world. How do we approach and deal with pain?
July 14, 2005 Romans 8:18-25
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, 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. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not yet see, we wait for it patiently.
Do you know anybody that likes to complain a lot? At the least little hangnail they cry to you, “oohh, my finger hurts.” We have a saying for these kinds of people in my household. We call them drama kings and queens! Out come the tears, in comes the child, moaning and groaning because he hurt is knee! So we take them in our arms and continue the drama, “oh, are you ok? Should I call the doctor! Are you going to survive?” They aren’t old enough to recognize the sarcasm, but that’s ok. We tend to call such people whiners or cry babies. We say they need to toughen up a little bit.
On the other hand, maybe we need to soften up a little bit. Is it the necessarily wrong for somebody who does have some pain to complain or cry about it? Is it being a whiner if your finger does hurt and you want to tell someone else about it? How loving is it if some is hurting - even just a little bit - and you just say to them, “suck it up”? Should we just try to ignore something that genuinely hurts? No. Today we’ll learn from God’s Word how -
Groaning is a Godly Thing
Paul begins todays text by acknowledging that suffering is a real thing - as he says talks about “our sufferings.” What kind of sufferings is he talking about? Look at this word in context. Paul says, The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. The creation was subject to frustration and the BONDAGE of DECAY. This goes back to Adam and Eve stuff. Genesis 3:17-19 says, “To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
These words show us that God put an active curse on the ground. This curse was so bad that Paul says creation has been “groaning.” What a picture, huh? The way he personifies creation is really neat - listen to it saying, “oohh. Oohh.” As I was contemplating this text, I was on a walk from Martin Luther College. Going down the road, I saw a huge forest to my right overlooking a wonderful valley. I thought to myself, “where’s the curse? God must have missed this part. Then - a few minutes later, as I got into those woods, I noticed a deerfly buzzing uncontrollably around my head. I couldn’t get the dumb thing off of me. I started swatting and swatting, but the deerfly wouldn’t give up. Then, as I jumped over a brance, I noticed the tail end of a deer. The deer - when it saw me - ran away. I missed it - and it was scared of me. Creation was starting to groan at me. I decided to turn around and start heading home - after all - this deer fly was running to me and the deer were running from me. As I finally got on the road home - I then looked at some of the houses and trees that look so spotless before. I noticed grass that hadn’t been cut, weeds that hadn’t been trimmed, and trees that were leaning and dying. Limbs were completely dry. There was a curse on this creation. I just hadn’t been looking very closely. I got to thinking about pictures I had seen of old artifacts - real bones of turtles that were bigger than men! This earth seems to have been much more grower friendly and animal friendly. But it’s decaying. Creation is groaning. And it’s only going to get worse. Matthew 24:7, 21 says, “There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” In connection with this he then concludes that, “there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.” The sad thing is that creation did not deserve this. Creation did not choose to be decaying. God made it that way - because of OUR sin. Paul writes that, “creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it.” So the suffering that Paul is talking is about natural physical suffering - things we go through as we live in decay.