Romans 8:18-30 (NRSV)
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.
ELCA Book of Faith Devotional Questions:
- What scares, confuses, or challenges me in this text? What do I have questions about?
Whenever I am studying the letters of Paul, I find it helpful to break it down into small chunks, sometimes even into just words or phrases. What words or phrases tug at your ear, your eyes, your heartstrings? One sentence in this passage that I have always had a hard time with is in verse 28: “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God.” It is especially hard to believe in this statement when someone we know and love is going through a rough patch. Where is the good here? Why can’t I see it? It reminds me of Joseph from the book of Genesis, and his great capacity for forgiveness to his brothers. Where do I find good, in the midst of sorrow? Where is the light of Christ, when all seems dark?
- What delights me in this text? What is my favorite part, and why?
My favorite phrase in this passage was first introduced to me as a song: “The Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words to express” (vs. 26) This expression of the Spirit as a sigh connects to my practice of yoga as a prayer practice. The entire practice, including the super-bendy, more challenging movements, are animated only by breath. We breathe in, and ask the Spirit to fill us. We breathe out, and ask the Spirit to move us. Sometimes, our ability to put experiences into words fails us, and it is helpful to me to know that the Spirit moves with me, speaks for me, when the end of my words has come.
- What stories or memories does this text stir up in me? How does this story connect to the story of my life?
Lent is a perfect season for the practice of hope, as we see in verse 25: “If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” It is hard to be patient for spring, for warmer temperatures and melting snow, for new life and the flurry of activity that that entails. My patience has certainly been tried on multiple occasions this past winter, and I am reminded in this verse that patience and hope go hand in hand.
- What is God up to in this text? What is God calling me to do or to be because of this message?
This passage is one of the most important things that Paul ever wrote. How is it speaking to you, during this season of deepening faith and discipleship? I pray that it may come to be your friend, if even in tiny doses, as we dwell in this Word together over the next month.
In Christ, Pastor Breen