18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 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. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 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. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 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 what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
We sat in silence for quite a while. He had not shaken my hand when I walked into the room like he usually did. His handshake had been firm from years of physical work. The stroke had rendered the limbs on that side of his body inert. Even his face was distorted. His speech was slurred. His eye teared. Was it irritated or was he weeping? Did it make a difference? Before him lay a long road of recovery, therapy, and a life reimagined. He desperately wanted to go his grand-daughter’s graduation. We prayed for patience that day and had to pray for patience many times through the days that followed.
I think of my friend recovering from a stroke when I read these words. I wonder if sufferings of the present time are truly not worth comparing with the glory to be revealed. As a pastor I have seen some suffering and am aware that I have not seen the worst the Devil and this sinful world can throw at people. I pray I am spared that. That glory of which Paul writes must be great indeed. He says it involves the whole of creation, for that creation groans awaiting this revealing of God’s redemption of his people. It too will participate in the restoration of Eden. My friend groaned as his limbs went through the rigors of physical therapy and he had to relearn how to shape words with his clumsy tongue. In that he joined the whole of creation, groaning and laboring under the curse of sin. My friend will run again, no more walkers, no more canes, no more hitch in his step, and no more slur to his speech. There is a glory to be revealed, a glory which will make these sufferings not worth comparing.
The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not even know what to pray for sometimes. Overwhelmed by a world which seems to have gone awry, we are paralyzed by dread and unable to decide what to do next. If you feel helpless today, tongue-tied, and paralyzed. Know what brought my friend great comfort. The Spirit of God prayed prayers which we cannot articulate, even when our tongues are free and our lives uncomplicated. He knows what we need. He brings that prayer to God for you today.