For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:18-25)
In this life, at times our hearts break. At times, sorrow becomes unbearable. Pain feels like a rising tide that won’t return to the sea.
In Romans 8, Paul describes this kind of suffering as, “the whole creation…groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” We are, “groaning inwardly as we wait eagerly…” he says.
One of my favorite day-to-day promises in Christ is this: we have the gift of hope. It’s not pie in the sky talk about things being better one day while ignoring the present…hope is real, tangible belief that Jesus changed everything and ushered in a reality that includes a future for us without pain, without sorrow, and without sin. Hope is resting in the promise that our Creator will take everything that happens in this life and somehow redeem everything and restore everything to something beyond our wildest and best dreams – including us. Our life here, walking with the Spirit, is just the beginning.
In The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis writes, “…the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
Building on a similar theme, Greg Morse writes, “Despair forgets that there are more pages. It gazes at the brief span of our lives and complains that all should be fulfilled before the page is turned. But hope loves the whole story. Hope breathes, laughs, and draws courage from gazing upon something grander than self. It grows in an epic tale, a tale with joys that cannot be abridged within one hundred years on earth. What we mistake as the end, is merely leaving the preface for the first chapter."
But hope loves the whole story.
Oh that we would hope in Christ this Christmas. The world longs for hope. Our souls long for hope. And we know the truth: because of Christ, the best truly is yet to come.