Summary: We are waiting with, in and through Material adapted from John Mark Hick's book called: Yet Will I Trust Him: Understanding God in a Suffering World
There is a woman who is buried under a 175 year old oak tree in a cemetery of a church in rural Louisiana. According to this woman’s instructions, only one word is carved on the tombstone, “Waiting.”
John Mark Hicks is a Church of Christ guy and he has been through loss- his first wife died (since remarried) and his only son had a debilitating condition that lead to his death at a young age. Mr. Hicks wrote a book that helped him in his grief called, “Yet Will I Trust Him: Understanding God in a Suffering World”- recommend it but it is lengthy- best section here
We are caught between the “not yet” of fallenness and the “already” of the end of the world. This tension means that Christians live in 2 worlds. We live in the futility of suffering, death, mourning, and pain, but we also live in the Spirit who gives hope, peace, and comfort. We are oppressed by the world’s fallenness, but we are liberated and renewed by the indwelling Spirit of God. This tension creates the situation where Christians must wait for something they already partially possess. Christians wait for the end of the this world with a hope that overcomes the futility of fallenness. This is an important idea for Paul.
“Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.” 1 Corinthians 1:7. “But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.” Galatians 5:5. “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,” Philippians 3:20. “while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,” Titus 2:13.
Thesis: We are waiting with, in and through
1. Waiting with confidence
We are confident because God has loved us in Jesus. Fallenness creates doubt about God’s love. Suffering causes us to question God’s intent, motive, rationale, and power. A demonstration of God’s love in Jesus Christ dispels our doubts even if it does not answer all our questions.
We are confident because God works in all things for our good. The promise of Romans 8:28 is significant not only because of its meaning but also because of its context. Trapped in fallenness, yet given hope by the Spirit, Christians are caught in uncertainty about the present. The present is filled with suffering though the future is filled with hope. The constant promise of God which answers this uncertainty is that God is at work in all things for good.
God is active. He is active in everything. He has a good intention in everything he does. God is not distant or uninvolved. There is nothing outside of his activity. In everything he seeks to accomplish good, and, given that it is God, he will achieve good in every situation.
The “good” here does not refer to a human definition of happiness. It does not mean that nothing bad will happen, but that in everything that happens God intends something good for God’s will is actively accomplishing something good. The “good” here refers to God’s ultimate intent. The good that God works is the highest good- it is the good of fellowship with him. It is the good of conformity to the image of his Son (Romans 8:29-30). This is the purpose of God in the world.
2. Waiting in hope
Our hope is the experience of glorious redemption. We wait for freedom from the bondage of corruption and mortality. We wait for the redemption of our bodies. God’s glorious intent is to conform us to the image of his Son, both in body and soul.
Our hope is grounded in the work of God in Jesus Christ. Just as God subjected the world to fallenness, so God redeems the world through Jesus Christ. God gave his Son for the work of redemption. God is for us even though fallenness sometimes distorts our perception of God’s redemptive intent. God is not against us Vs. 31. The evidence of God’s redemptive love is that he gave us his Son, and if he gives us his Son, then “how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32, NIV. On the contrary, through Jesus Christ, God justified us- vs. 33
Our hope is established through the intercession of Jesus Christ. We do not fear condemnation even when fallenness may distort our perception of how God feels about us. Nothing condemns us because God in Christ has justified us, and Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of God to intercede for us- vs. 34. God has already made his judgment in our favor through the intercession of Jesus Christ.