Scripture: Romans 8:18-30 (NRSVue)
A promising high school athlete suffers yet another concussion, dashing their hopes for one day playing in the NFL. A bum back keeps you up yet another night. An innocent person dies in a car wreck. You have to put your beloved pet down. Earthquakes. Pandemics. War between Israel and Palestine.
Paul describes our present suffering hauntingly in our passage, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of labor, and not only the creation, but we ourselves….” Paul is a realist, yet he also reminds us that God dwells in the middle of our pain. God will sustain us and eventually redeem us and all creation from the sufferings of this transient life of ours. “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed in us.” With Jesus, Hope wins over Despair.
October 22, 2023
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Bible Study Questions
Bible Scholar N.T. Wright lays out two themes found in our Romans 8:18-30 reading this week.
First, God’s plan for salvation for creation. In vv. 18-25 we see with stunning clarity God’s plan of salvation for all of creation (humans and everything else in all of the world). This “future glory” that we enjoy partially now, but in fullness in the future sustains us through the hardship and suffering we inevitably endure in our fallen world. How do you see hope at work in these verses?
Second, God dwells in the middle of our pain. In this fascinating portion of Romans 8, we see all of creation and all Christians groaning together in our longing for freedom and our redeemed bodies. God doesn’t stand apart from our pain, rather he comes to dwell in the middle of it in the person and power of the Holy Spirit, who prays in us with groanings too deep for words. Even though we do not understand it, the Spirit prayers for God’s will in us. How can you be assured of God’s love and your hopeful future in the midst of life’s inevitable suffering?
Finally, how would you put into your own words this famous verse: We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
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