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  • Pastor Jim Gronbeck

“Waiting with Eager Longing”

When we are dealing with something and know there will be an end to the struggle, then we can deal with it easier than if we don’t know the outcome. I’ve had a few minor surgeries and though they are uncomfortable for a while, knowing that I will soon get better gives me patience in the present time.

Something like the Coronavirus, where there is not a well-known process of the disease, would be much more difficult. The current struggle we are undergoing as a nation concerning race relations is another issue of which we do not know the outcome. Then when we add the upcoming Presidential election and all the congressional elections, we have more situations that are very difficult to predict.

It seems as if the passage from Romans 8 today has a lot to say to our current situation. Paul says that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. Paul was talking about the situation with the Roman congregation which was dealing with persecution and hardship. These words, however, have been a source of comfort and hope for Christians throughout the ages as we deal with hardship and difficulties.

We are ‘groaning’ under the stress of all the things afflicting us as a group or nation, not to mention any personal issues we may be having to deal with. These issues are all exceedingly difficult, complex, and frightening especially when we don’t know what the outcome will be for us.

Paul writes comparing the situation he was facing to the pain and agony of a woman in labor. I realize that I have absolutely NO understanding of labor pains except while being with my wife while she delivered our three children. I do know that labor is one of the most intense and painful things a person can go through.

So, Paul is acknowledging the suffering of his time was intense—and painful. It is painful and intense in our situations as well. The Coronavirus has killed over 141 thousand in the US alone. Since the riots in Minneapolis, murders have gone up over 125%! People are still getting sick, the usage of our local food shelf has now begun to rise, we are still dealing with family and person struggles, businesses are trying to stay open, people are struggling to keep their jobs or find new ones, and schools are trying to figure out how to best teach come fall. We are certainly dealing with a lot right now.

St. Paul wrote this to give hope to struggling Christians. He says that hope is waiting patiently for what is not seen. We wait patiently for the end to our struggles, for our emotional or family problems to end, for a vaccine to be discovered, for all the things that are causing us to lose sleep or feel the pain of grief and loss.

Hope involves trusting Jesus our Lord and Savior to bring to an end the suffering and pain of this present time. Hope involves working together to bring about change, to find cures, to help one another, or to walk with someone experiencing a tough time.

Dr. Roy Harrisville, in commenting on this passage wrote that “Patience is not resignation to fate. It is the condition of an arrow poised for release from a bow.” It’s an apt description of waiting in hope for something that we trust will happen. We wait patiently, ready to spring into action or answer Christ’s call to action. We wait patiently when we trust that there is an end to the time of suffering. We are poised for action and ready to lend our support and aid to someone.

As Christians we hope, and we trust in the promises of Jesus. We wait patiently for our Lord to return and usher us into the Kingdom for all eternity. We don’t know when, and that was an issue for early Christians, but we wait—ready for the time when Jesus comes.

Where do you find hope? I find it on the faces of my children and grandchildren. I see it in the youth of our church. I find hope when I see firsthand how people care for one another and help one another.

God has not, nor will God ever abandon us. We are people of hope because of the joy of Easter morning. We are Easter People who know deep in our hearts that God is still at work in our world. The hope we share is the New Life that God in Christ breathes into us each day. God has blessed us, and God calls us to be people of hope who work for a better life and a better world for all of us. We are a people poised and ready; willing to work for change; filled with hope because of Jesus Christ.

St. Paul proclaims to all who are dealing with the struggles and fears of the present time: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.” We can’t realize what the future holds for us or how glorious it will be, but as children of Jesus Christ, we live in hope. We hope for what is not seen, yet what we know deep in our hearts is true: Jesus died for us and has been raised from death to life. We know that our life and our future is secure. We can then go out to share this magnificent story of salvation with others.

We are people of hope. We offer the hope of Christ for today and for the future. We will endure the present time. We will also be people who work for positive change in the lives of others.

AMEN


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