‘Tis the season for sickness. Fevers, congestion, stuffy sinuses, rumbling stomachs, and aches and pains are in full swing. For the last few weeks of winter I largely sat on the sideline of this game, but this week, Coach put me in. As I’ve been battling the opposition’s stuffy defense through my over-the-counter playbook, I’ve been reminded of the frailty and brokenness of the human body, and it’s caused me to think upon Romans 8.
Paul was writing to the Romans about how our world is broken. It’s been broken since the fall of man right after the completion of creation. Since then we have experienced a myriad of consequences for our sin, ranging from natural disasters like earthquakes to moral disasters like abortion. As he is writing, he uses an interesting way of describing the world by saying that all of these things that seem to be haywire in our world are the world’s way of crying out for a new world. It’s groaning for all things to be made right. Everything will be made right when Christ comes to reign in his Kingdom with us, his followers made family members through adoption. That’s why Paul writes this:
For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God…for we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. (Romans 8:19, 22)
It’s interesting to think about the creation groaning for a new creation, but it's a little abstract to be able to identify with it. But it’s much easier to identify with what Paul writes next:
And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. (8:23)
Just as the creation is crying out for a new creation, so our bodies, every time they creak or give out or hurt are reminding us that these are temporary bodies. And the fact that we have the Holy Spirit residing within us, he reminds us that we have new bodies on the way. Part of the fullness of the salvation that God has given us includes a new body—one with no pains, no hurts, no failures. And oh, how we wait eagerly for that!
Take heart in this as well, you are not alone in your groaning. The Spirit, who is within you, groans as well. In fact, when he groans, he does it in prayer, and the groanings he mutters are in conversation with the Father on your behalf.
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weaknesses; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 8:26-27)
Medical doctors often can’t diagnose our groanings. But ultimately they’re not meant to. Our groanings, physical or spiritual, are the result of our sin that will one day be wiped away forever. For those who are in Christ, the penalty of our sin has already been wiped away, but we look forward, with eager anticipation, to the day in which our groanings of a fallen body will be silenced out by the grateful praise of a new one, and we experience the wiping away of even the presence of sin.