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The Pain and Joy Beyond Words

Romans 8 says that “All of creation is groaning” – the entire cosmos, ecologically, socially, politically…the entire system is groaning.

We could look at a map of the world and see so many situations where it is groaning – political strife like Myanmar; war; famine; the spread of disease which takes turns to devastate Italy, Brazil, India, Fiji, Peru; ecological disaster of burning rainforests, melting icecaps and bleached reefs; poverty and slavery. The world groans and we groan with it – “Lord, have mercy!”


The good news is that there are good groans as well as bad groans.


The Bible uses pregnancy as a helpful image to remind us that there are good groans. This is pain and struggle that brings about something wonderful, new. The creation is being reborn. Read this version of the passage from “The Message”:

"All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy."


People who have been pregnant and birthed a child will say that this is worth the discomfort and pain of pregnancy and labour. They go through with it because they dream of their beautiful baby, a new life with so much hope and potential. There is great love for that child as it grows toward birth.


Hope is important for us – it makes the groans worthwhile. This is not groaning in despair, but the effort of reaching for the hope to come.


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