Scripture: Romans 8:18-27
Personally, I struggle with the idea and the practice of hope. The defining features of my generation of millenials have been Y2K; September 11th; global recessions; wars in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Ukraine; a pandemic—COVID-19—mental health crises; and the impacts of climate change.
I hope you can understand why I, and so many of this era, struggle with hope. Nobody seems to care about making significant changes and our future looks quite grim. Some throw up their hands and say, “it is what it is”, and continue living shallow and shadowed lives. Others join in the apathy—if no one else cares, then why should I? Is there anyone left who still has hope for a future in glory…?
Romans 8 reminds us that we hope for things that are not seen. That means our current state of not being able to see a brighter future is very much in keeping with the requirements for hope. (Yay?) David M. Greenhaw proposes that there two parts to this hope that we can engage with, as children of God.
The first is the act of moaning and groaning. This does not mean sounds of complaint, but rather sounds of the earth groaning with labour pains like a pregnant woman. Relief has not yet come, and so this moaning and groaning are sounds of endurance through the pain and suffering. Do not give up because the child hasn’t been born yet—a new life is coming! This is a call for us to grit our teeth, buckle up in our seats, be patient, and prepare.
The second is a call to imagination. We hope in things “not seen” … they’re invisible or, rather, imagined. We serve a God of creation, who definitely has quite the imagination (case in point: the platypus)! Now we children are called to exercise that same spirit of creativity with our minds as we dare to dream, hope, and even innovate towards a future yet unknown. As we now engage the imagination, think now of God’s plans for humanity and how much more awesome they have always been!
This passage is one that undeniably answers my question of “Is there still hope?” with a firm “Yes.” The suffering must be endured. Our imaginations must kick into overdrive. Such is the will of the Spirit who intercedes for us, saints. Let there be hope!
—Rev. Sanya S. Beharry, Presbyterian Church of Trinidad and Tobago