Letters in the New Testament represent powerful messages to specific groups of people in Bible times; these letters were supernaturally written through the Holy Spirit to be just as powerful for believers today. The book of Romans is a letter from a church planter named Paul to the believers in Rome. This city was the capital of the Roman Empire and full of people who had just become followers of Jesus. Thus, the book is called Romans.
Paul was explaining the suffering of this world and how to live in it as God‘s children. The good news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection allows people to become God’s children and gives them God’s Spirit to live inside them.
Hearing the Word
Read Romans 8:18-28 (NIV).
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Responding to the Word
Paul is familiar with suffering. With powerful metaphors of birth and adoption in the context of groaning and suffering, how does Paul interpret this present pain and trouble?
Who are the “saints” mentioned near the end of the Scripture text? How would you define “intercede”?
What actions do you see God taking in this passage? What does the Holy Spirit do?
What is Paul’s hope for the future, hope that helps him and his present suffering of any troubles?
Even when we do not know how to pray, the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and is interceding for (praying on behalf of) God’s people “with groanings too deep for words,” (Romans 8:27, ESV) according to the will of God. Because our Father in heaven knows we, his children--also called saints--struggle, stumble, and sometimes are ready to give up, his Spirit serves on our behalf. We are not left to puzzle through what he is doing and just tough it out during hard times. He is supporting us, building spiritual resilience in us.
Name the “groaning“ in creation that you see currently--both locally and globally. Paul writes how God redeems all circumstances for people who love him. In what situations do you want to invite God to work together for good? If studying with others, pray for each other about this.
Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind two or more people in your relational network that whom you should connect this week and offer to pray with them.