Romans 8:22: “The whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth”.
We all have limitations in our life, things we wish were not happening. Some things we deal with for just a fleeting moment– like the huge mess you discover when your son has emptied the kitchen trash all over the kitchen floor. Some things we deal with for a few weeks– like a nasty flu or other illness that sweeps through the entire house. Some things last for a few months– like a colicky baby or an overly busy schedule. While some things last years- family health issues, infertility, a difficult job, financial strains, or a child’s erratic behavior. We have these limitations and we suffer on this earth because we live in a fallen world.
Solutions– we NEED solutions! This is a problem-solving world we live in, and we are always looking for a quick fix. I don’t even want to admit how many times I’ve used Google in the last year. Some things are easy to solve, such as finding a lock for the garbage can, taking a child to the doctor, or scaling back on your busy schedule. But what about those things you can’t change? The things that are out of your power and control?
I am reading through Romans in Bible study, and there is an analogy in Romans 8 that I just love so much. Romans 8:22 says, “The whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time”. EVERYTHING in creation is groaning, as a woman in labor groans. The teacher in me just loves this analogy. In this world we will have trouble, (John 16:33) God’s Word says we will. As believers we are not exempt from hardships in this lifetime. But Paul’s image of birthing pains in Romans 8 helps us see that our pains here on earth are full of HOPE. When I started having contractions for the first time, I was so excited and hopeful because it meant that the difficulties of pregnancy were almost over and our long-awaited child was coming. This picture of childbirth has completely changed my perspective. I am holding on to the fact that there is a day coming where God is going to fulfill all His promises.
When I was in labor, I had pain, because that is inevitable. (Although thank goodness for epidurals!) The 15 hours of labor I experienced felt LONG. But when my beautiful son was born, a lot of that was forgotten, (at least for a little bit!) because of the joy he brought me! I know many people in my life who are suffering at various levels. And many of them have chosen JOY and HOPE- wholeheartedly trusting in our Sovereign God. I am so inspired by how my brothers and sisters in Christ choose to be joyful and hopeful through their trials. Suffering is never easy. Even if we do understand why we suffer (it produces Christ-like character and endurance, offers opportunities for God’s glory, it helps us turn from trusting ourselves to living by faith in God alone—just to name a few), suffering is not easy because it still hurts. When believers handle suffering with joy, it is quite the testimony to non-believers. We can be a witness to others by how we handle our trials. Continuing to rejoice in God in the midst of suffering shows that God, and not anything else, is the source of our joy.
Suffering, at any level, requires us to choose. Do we choose to suffer as the world suffers? In hopelessness, anger, or defeat? Or do we choose Christ, and the joy that comes in patiently waiting for His restoration? Because one day He will come back, our bodies will be glorified, and all our labor pains will be over. It will be SO worth the wait!