“We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” ~Romans 8:23
While we’re waiting for our final adoption and our ultimate redemption and our eternal glory, we don’t groan DESPITE the firstfruits of the Spirit. We groan BECAUSE of those firstfruits. We groan because we’ve had a taste.
We’ve seen glimpses of the eternal glory. We’ve tasted heaven. We’ve experienced bits and pieces of what’s reserved for us, to be fully revealed and realized later.
When we come together in worship we’re given a sense of that other dimension. We join that great throng of heavenly witnesses around the throne of God. We’re together with all the saints past, present, and future. There’s another scene, another city, there’s another reality beyond our own time and space. And we see it. We feel it. If only for a moment. When we come together around the common table and share the communal meal, we are truly one with Christ and with each other. Perfect fellowship. Perfect unity. Perfect acceptance and perfect communion. And it’s not ordinary. It involves something so much bigger and better than us.
Give Away Day. Friends Day. Baptisms. Baby blessings. Missionary sendoffs. We experience up close and personal these first fruits of the Spirit. We see and hear and touch and taste God’s healing and cleansing and joy and forgiveness and power and reconciliation and compassion and love. We see change. We feel impact. We taste victory.
But it’s just a taste. And I want it all. I want it all right now. It makes it worse.
It makes us want to see our Lord even more. It makes us want that new body even more. We’re increasingly frustrated at not meeting God’s standards. We long more and more to be exactly what he wants us to be.
Yes, we are already God’s children. Yes, we’re already forgiven and justified and reconciled and restored. But we’re not God’s children in the way we will be some day: possessing the full inheritance, enjoying perfect holiness in our resurrected bodies, totally glorified.
And so we wait. Patiently. We try not to focus on today’s sufferings; we look forward to tomorrow’s glory. We try not to obsess about where we are; we anticipate where we’re going.
God is unfolding a plan, a plan that provides fully for our eternal future. A plan that leads to ultimate glory for his children. And Paul wants us to come away from Romans 8 with increased confidence and assurance that the God who began a good work in us will indeed bring it to completion in the day of Christ Jesus.
Our groanings are not in vain. They serve an eternal purpose that’s being worked out by the creator of heaven and earth who groans right along with us to make it happen.