I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.
In this passage, Paul writes that the world is “groaning in labor pains” as it moves toward the fulfillment that God intends. These are words of radical hope, a deep assurance that, though we may not be able to see it, the creation is unfolding as it should. Later in the passage, he says that “All things work together for good for those who love God . . .” This is a hard promise to trust, particularly in times when things do not seem to be moving in a “good” direction. One is reminded of the line often attributed to Martin Luther King, taken originally from a sermon by Theodore Parker: “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
How do you maintain your sense of hope when things are not going well?
This Sunday is Pride Sunday in Minneapolis. What could this text mean for LGBT people?
Rev. Dr. James Gertmenian