You Have Hope / Romans 8:18-25

The 8 Series   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Our groaning is not a groaning of death, but a groaning of birth. All of this suffering is not leading to the end, but toward a new beginning. Our groaning is leading to glory.

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Before we dive into today’s passage of scripture, I want to pause and simply say - thank you. Hebrews says of Pastoral Leadership, “They are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning.” Have there been times when being a pastor here has lead to groaning? Yes. Will there be times when Michael will groan because of what is occuring in our community? Absolutely. But this past month, you have made our team feel incredibly loved. Serving here has been a joy. Not just because of precious words of encouragement. Not only because of Chick-fil-a gift cards and prayers for our son. But mostly because we are seeing the evidence of our community being strengthened in truth. 3 John 1:4 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” Your love in action gives us joy. Your willingness to serve gives us joy. The baptism of our young men gives us joy. The return of prodigals gives us joy. Our hope amidst suffering gives us joy.
And it is that hope, the robust kind, that we will learn to have today. Let’s ask the Father to guide us.
Father, would you reveal to us the beauty of what is to come so that we can endure the brokenness of what we currently feel. In the name of Jesus, amen.
In my hand, I have a watermelon seed. Let’s imagine that you’re from another planet. You don’t know how plants work and you’ve never seen a watermelon before. In fact, the only evidence you have that they exist, is this tiny seed in my hand.
I proceed to tell you that one day, this dull, tiny seed, will increase greatly in size. It will become full and round. It will be green and have stripes. It will be red-ish pink on the inside and taste sweet. It will be perfect for a sunny summer day and when you’re done you can spit out the seeds at your younger siblings.
For all of this to work, it will need to be buried underground and broken. But given time, under the proper care and conditions, I promise it will become what I’ve described.
Our present life on this earth seems a lot like this seed. Dull and Insignificant. But the scriptures tells us, that one day all of creation will be made into something new, beautiful, and full of life.
My goal today, is to describe how God is going to turn our simple seeds into beautiful creations. My goal is to call us to be bold enough to find hope in a future that makes sense of our present.
Here are three reasons we can have hope despite the suffering we experience in this life.
First, our...

Present pains deepen the contrast between this life and future happiness.

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
The greek word for “consider” literally refers to numerical calculation. Paul endured incredible suffering because of his witness for Jesus. When he wasn’t being stoned, shipwrecked, or flogged, he was likely in prison. But when Paul paused to consider the beautiful inheritance that awaits believers, he admits, “its not even comparable”.
What do you consider during your moments of suffering? How do you attempt to add things up when you lose a loved one? What equation do you you consider in your heart when you are paralyzed by anxiety or lose friends over unexpected conflict?
This is how many do the math of suffering:
Suffering + nothing beyond the grave = hopelessness
Suffering + an unclear view of eternity = an unstable hope
Paul shows us that there is a different equation:
Suffering + a clear understanding of promised glory = an unshakable hope
The clearer your understanding is of future glory, the deeper your hope will be during moments of suffering.
Let’s picture a scale. One side is your present pain. The other side is your future happiness.
On the scale present pain, what would you place?
I feel shame
My car broke down
Someone harmed me with their words
I can’t keep a job
I lost someone I loved
My body is in constant pain
My house is a constant mess
This side of the scale has legitimate weight, now, like Paul, let’s consider the weight of the other side.
With the scriptures as our guide, what promises come to mind?
There is no condemnation
You are forgiven
We have a family
We have a Father
We will be forever free
We will have an imperishable inheritance
We will have a new body
We will have a new earth
One side is temporary. The other is eternal. One side is passing away. The other side is about to begin.
Which side of the scale has the most weight in your heart? Are you overwhelmed by the weight of present pain or overcome with the weight of future glory?
Allow your heart to believe.
Johnny Cash once penned the witty lyrics, “You’re so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good.” Friends, the passage teaches us to disagree. The only way we will find goodness on this broken earth is to allow our heads to poke through the clouds of heaven and look around in awe.
Allow your heart to believe.
But even if we want to believe, suffering makes it hard. Pain makes this life feel real and makes the next seem theoretical. It seems like suffering is in 3-D color while eternal life with God dimly displays in 2-D black and white.
The Holy Spirit, knowing this, wants to remind us through scripture that...

Our groaning strengthens joyful anticipation for physical re-creation.

19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
We often emphasize the importance of individual salvation. But just as justification is sweetened by the knowledge of adoption, our salvation is sweetened by learning of God’s desire to make all things new. Including creation.
Instinctively, we feel the bondage, futility, and corruption of creation. When we want to spend a relaxing afternoon in the garden, we’re meet with thorns, bees, and (for me) sunburn. Can we go a single month without there being a hurricane or flood? I need a par and a dreaded gust of wind blows my ball out of bounds (or at least that’s my excuse). Gravity presses down on us as we press the earth to produce a quick profit.
We’re at war with the very earth with which we were entrusted to care.
But this isn’t creation’s fault. Genesis 3:17-19 “And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
We spiritually rejected a perfectly loving God and part of the curse was physical in nature.
But God, not only saved us spiritually, but will restore all things physically. His spiritual son came to the cursed world in a physical body. He literally died. He physically rose and he will physically come again not only to make a new heaven, but also a new earth.
That is why creation is depicted as standing on it’s tip-toes waiting for Christians to be resurrected when Christ makes everything new. God linked the restoration of creation and humanity together.
For now, creation remains in a futile state. Meaning that it is not fulfilling its intended design. But when Christ comes, creation will provide humanity with joy as it reflects the creativity of God.
Fruit will be sweater. Rainbows brighter. Snakes won’t bight. And people won’t die.
The gravity and grit of creation will explode into praise when we are collectively set free to become who we were made to be.
In this life, you and all of the cosmos will not escape the bondage of corruption. So let's value creation, but let's not hope in creation. We're often depicted as hoping for the restoration of the earth, but in this passage, creation is hoping for the restoration of us.
It’s as if creation is in on a secret and is whispering to us. “Hey, don’t worry about me. I’m gunna be set free. I’m gunna be made new. And so are you. So set your hope on the shared joy that awaits us both.”
Younger people, this means that in this life, you will not find a city to move to that perfectly meets all of your families wishes. We are not going to start a movement that keeps the earth from the corruption that traps it in bondage. But God will restore the earth.
Older people, this means that no political agenda is going to make America heaven on earth. Only God can make earth as it is in heaven, and he will.
22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly
Both believers and creation groan for a better day as we encounter the pain of this life.
Maybe you thought that when you came to Jesus, it would be the beginning of your “happily ever after”.
Instead you realized, that you experience the shared sufferings common to all people. Christians are not exempt from cancer. Christians are not exempt from depression.
But there is another suffering that is unique to believers. We suffer because we are not ashamed of the gospel. We suffer because the light of God’s S within us makes darkness feel convicted.
If we have the firstfruits, the guarantee of the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t we be free from groaning? No, if anything, our groaning is deeper because we have been given insight into what the world was originally made to be. We know that God desires to make all things new, and we know that in his wisdom and patience, his answer is, not yet.
But to keep us from despair, lets us not forget: our groaning is not the sound of death. Our groaning is the sound of new life. Our groaning is compared to childbirth. We groan, not for the end, but for a new beginning!
Longing for everything to made new is evidence of the Sprit at work within your heart.
While this truth does not remove our groaning in this life, it does uncover a hidden beauty.
My wife and I are expecting our first child. At first, her pain and growth were both minimal. But the more our son has matured, the more pain my wife has experienced. And yet, even though her pain is increasing, or joyful anticipation of his birth grows at a faster pace. Because we know that temporary pain is leading towards a new joy.
Beloved Ironbridge, our groans are not the sounds of death, but the sounds of future hope. The more we wait, the more pain we may have to endure, but as a mother forgets her pain when the child is placed on her chest, our pain will be soon forgotten when we are standing in the physical presence of Jesus.
That is why...
as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Umm, Paul, didn’t you just write a few verses earlier that we have already recieved a Spirit of adoption? Why then does this verse say that we are waiting for adoption?
Paul wants us to realize that there is both a present and future aspect to our salvation. In a similar way that Jordyn and I already have a son, but he is not yet experiencing the fullness of life with us until he is born.
So if we have been reconciled with God and filled with his Spirit, what privilege have we not yet recieved? The text tells us, the redemption of our bodies. Our spirits have been made new, but our physical bodies have not yet been glorified.
Perhaps because of our good emphasis on justification, the supernatural resurrection of the physical body has become a forgotten doctrine.
Check out these verses:
Philippians 3:20-21 “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”
1 Corinthians 15:49 “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”
1 Corinthians 15:50-57 “I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Sounds a little supernatural right? It is supernatural. God is going to take the natural and make from it, the immortal.
As we dwell on this topic, an obvious question rises to the surface. What will our bodies be like? The verses give us a clue: the Lord Jesus Christ, will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body.
When Jesus was raised from the dead, he appeared to over 500 people. Some of them recognized him immediately. To others, he supernaturally revealed himself. He ate fish. But he also passed through locked doors. He sat down at tables. But he also ascended into heaven. His new body will never die again. But he kept the scars in his hands and side.
His scars prove the grace that led to glory. He knew that the scars of our past would be the very signs of God's ability to turn suffering into salvation. Groaning into glory.
Though your body is broken. Your body has value. We groan now, but our groaning is guiding us to glory. We do not groan as those who are dying, but as those who are longing for eternal life.

Hope in our chest will become the sight of our eyes.

At one of my previous churches, there was a story about the words one of our beloved pastors as he was nearing death. Wanting an escape from his painful reality, he began to say, “Come Lord, Jesus.” “Come Lord, Jesus.” With legitimate expectation after a few minutes of waiting, the pastor showed his humanity by saying, “He ain’t coming.” “He ain’t coming.”
This sweet man, illustrates two pitfalls many of us slip into during moments of suffering.
We lack hope or we become impatient.
Some of us live as though “he ain’t coming”. And the results are terrible. We look to this futile world to provide meaning and pleasure. We hope in politics to provide lasting peace. We think our family can replace the eternal family of God. We use retirement as a joy-ride not recognizing that we are a vapor away from eternal paradise. Here is how Paul would encourage us despite our tendency to live like “he ain’t coming”...
24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?
We often use the word “hope” as a synonym for “wishful thinking”. Like, “I hope Liberty beats Virginia Tech in football.” But the New Testament uses this word to describe confidence, not blind faith despite uncertainty. After all, the hope we have is based upon God’s promises.
Hope in the promises of God is like recording a football game and someone telling you the results before you watch. As you watch the game later in the evening, even though your players still get tackled, and bad calls are made, you have an amazing calmness, why? Because though you haven’t seen the ending, you know who wins.
This life will tackle you. This life will give you bad calls. There is a real enemy who wants to hurt you. It is often hard to know how we will win. But we can trust in God’s promises. And the more we do, the more peace we will have during storms.
But there is a problem. Many of us are scared to hope. Some of the promises seem too good to be true. What if we’re being led on? After all, we can’t see it?
Picture in your mind, those who are hoping in God. Think about mothers who have lost sons who are hoping to see their boys again. Think about martyrs who’ve been killed for Christ, believing they will rise again. Think about those who were merciful to persecutors as they rested in the justice of God who will make all things right.
Now imagine that we’re wrong. That there is no resurrection. That there is no justice. That there will be no new earth. We of all people would be most to be pitied and the message that we propose is the darkest scam of all human history. The only reason to keep our hearts from hope would be if God were a liar.
God is not leading you on. God cannot lie. Those who hope in God will not be put to shame. Allow your heart to fully rest upon the promise of our future reality.
There is a second pitfall, some of us are repeating “Come Lord Jesus.” Not out of selfless hope, but because we are impatient during moments of trial.
While we’re praying for Jesus to return, so we do not have to deal with inflation, a mother is praying for her prodigal son to come home. Missionaries are working to bring truth to those who have never heard.
Let us not forget that Christ himself is applying patience.
2 Peter 3:8-13 “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.... according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
We can be patient as we trust for God to complete his purposes in this world. Though we groan, we must remember that the longer we wait, the stronger the church will become.
25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
As we honestly look upon our life on this earth, we are often disappointed by what we see. Broken relationships. Environmental disasters. Pain-filled bodies. We instinctively know that we were made for more.
Take this lifeless and dull seed and place it in the soil of hope. Be patient. And at the right time, your faith will become sight as your new reality burst with color and light.
Revelation 21:1-5 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
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