I love what Don Miller says in his book, Blue Like Jazz. He says that “groaning is the default language of the children of God.” What does he mean by that? Let’s read Romans 8:18-24 for some added insight on this word groaning:
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 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. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved."
Paul uses three wonderful phrases to get at the brokenness of our world. The first thing he says is, "For the creation was subjected to futility" (the NIV uses the word "frustration"). Sin has frustrated the cosmos. You know this personally. There are all kinds of frustrations you face in this fallen world. The brokenness of creation makes things so difficult and complicated.
Your schedule doesn't always work according to your plan. Things get in the way that you have no control over, disrupting your peace and comfort. Your relationships are always with flawed people (you're one of them as well), and that makes things messy. Again and again you find yourself frustrated, partially because of your sinful desires, but also because living in a fallen world is frustrating.
The second thing Paul says is that the world is in bondage to corruption, or decay. Now, death wasn't part of the original plan. Life was supposed to give way to life, giving way to life, giving way to life, all the way into eternity. But sin brought death into the world. And isn't it amazing to think that everything that's now living is somehow in the process of dying? It's a sad reality, but that's where we live.
Simple things like the stain-resistant carpet end up not being so stain-resistant after all. The car that excited you so and that even smelled new is now just a car with scratches and squeaks to prove it. Your body grows old, weak, and tired. Your joints hurt because they‘re wearing out from all the stress of exercise over the many years of your life. The list could go on and on, but the point is, things in this fallen world die.
The third thing Paul says is this - we live as if in the pains of childbirth. This means two things. One, it means that there are times where the painfulness of life in a fallen world is acute like that moment of pain when a mother is delivering a baby. But it also means that this painful moment is the process by which something very good will result, and that's the hope that he talks about.
Now I need you to be honest - are you facing the reality of where you live? Do you carry around with you appropriate expectations? Do you get the fact that, by God's holy plan, you've been called to live smack dab in the middle of a groaning universe?
Last week I wrote that life is all about knowing WHO you are. Life is also about knowing WHERE you live. But hear the Gospel, brothers and sisters! In the middle of this groaning universe, you have not been left alone.
Think about this. What is it that God has given you to help you as you live in the middle of this groaning world? He hasn't just given you principles. He hasn’t just given you commands. He hasn’t just given you promises. God has given you Himself, and in the middle of it all, we can have hope because He has given us Himself.
Sure, you'll face disappointment. God has never promised that you'll avoid disappointment. Sure, you'll face frustrations of life. You'll face problems and difficulties. But you'll never, ever, ever face those alone because the God who has ordained for you live in the middle of His amazing story is in the middle of that story with you.