We know that everything God made has been waiting until now in pain, like a woman ready to give birth. Not only the world, but we also have been waiting with pain inside us. We have the Spirit as the first part of God’s promise. So we are waiting for God to finish making us his own children. I mean we are waiting for our bodies to be made free. We were saved, and we have this hope.
If we see what we are waiting for, then that is not really hope. People do not hope for something they already have. But we are hoping for something that we do not have yet. We are waiting for it patiently.Romans 8:22-25, International Children’s Bible
In exploring Romans 8:22-25, I come at it from a mother’s lens. I’m mindful that this is not everyone’s journey, but I’m confident anyone can imagine, and I’ll attempt to illuminate my experience for you. Note – I do not have fond pregnancy memories and unfortunately relate strongly to these birth pangs laments.
Imagine having gone through months of fatigue, feeling like you can barely get up off the couch. Where you spent every waking moment followed by overwhelming nausea, and brushing your teeth was likely to result in vomit clogging the sink on the way out the door to work. You WANTED to have a kid. Wanted to be a parent. But adding 20 pounds to your frame and working 12 hour shifts leaves your body ravaged. Lower back pain and sciatica nerve issues are constant. Runny noses in the summer due to increased blood flow to mucous membranes. Rings don’t fit your sausage fingers, and ankles that you can’t see or reach are swelling against your shoes. Even breathing is a challenge as all of your internal organs get pushed up, to make room for your bundle of joy, putting constant pressure on your diaphragm. As you float in the water of your neighbor’s pool (God bless her for extending the invitation) for a moment of physical reprieve, you long for this part to be over, so you could just hold your baby already! (And actual labor hasn’t even started yet.)
Sounds like a dream, huh? In these verses, Paul equates the suffering of humanity to birth pangs. This suffering is REAL. Intense. Both mental and physical in nature. Even believers, who have hope and an idea of the reprieve waiting (in this metaphor, think 2nd time parent) are not immune. It’s inescapable and we all experience it. Even when labor starts, and we know there is an end in sight, the struggle only intensifies. Sometimes this pain can be so intense that in the moment, you tell yourself you don’t want to hang in there for the parenting payout you’ve been promised.
Paul says we wait in the midst of our suffering with patience. But the actual Greek word used is “hypomonos” which is translated to perseverance. Patience that continues in the face of difficult circumstances.
My fertility journey involved much sorrow intermingled with hope. I wanted to be a parent so badly. The idea I had in my head didn’t even come close to the reality of what parenting is, in the end. It’s difficult to verbalize the birth and parenting experience. What I pictured was rudimentary compared to the life that God envisioned. His plan is a complicated tapestry, intricate, with beautiful intertwining layers of grace, peace, joy, and love.
In Romans, it’s noted that a believer’s suffering is superseded by their hope. That hope is based in things we cannot see, that we cannot even imagine. As we all struggle through our day to day, our hope is an anchor – a promise so much greater than our little minds can comprehend.
So for today, in this moment, in the midst of inevitable painful messiness, I offer you this prayer:
Lord, this life is not easy. Help me today to have compassion for my fellow human who is also wrestling with their suffering. You promise us grace and peace that surpasses our understanding. Allow me to see those glimmers of light, interwoven into my daily experience so that I might continue to persevere with hope. Amen.
Laura Wright lives in Peoria, AZ
I love yoga, traveling, and eating good food. I wish that I was independently wealthy, but due to the unfortunate fact that this is not the case… I work as a nurse to fund these endeavors.