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, becausethe Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:18-28
Some people will wonder in these days following the recent hurricane and tropical storm Harvey’s destruction: “How could God allow such a thing to happen?” Others will offer another viewpoint: “God didn’t cause this. God didn’t send this.” I am not willing to make the latter pronouncement, nor am I willing to try to answer the former question.
The first question attempts to probe the mind of God while assuming the dangerous point of view that God somehow must answer to us about his ways and reasons. We have no standing to call God to account – except to hold him accountable to his own word. We have no moral foundation to bring a charge against God. He rules over all.
The One who rules over all, rules over the wind and the waves. That makes it difficult for me to tell anyone what God can or cannot do; or what he has or has not done. We do not, in fact, have the mind of God. I’m not ready to presume anything about what God does or does not do, and why he does it or not – except where he has revealed his intent and purpose in his word.
That is why these words from Romans 8 are so helpful. Creation is groaning in travail. It is not as it was from they beginning – now subject to futility and corruption. God, however, is at work in this fallen world to set it free and reveal the glory of God’s redemption in the resurrection and the life of the world to come.
In the mean time, God is working for the good of those who love him. Not all that happens is good. We certainly don’t always understand the ways of God. Truly, however, answering the question of why is never fully satisfying. God offers a better focus, and a look into his heart, rather than his mind. His heart is set on us and he promises that in all things he is working for our good.
As we struggle even to pray in these troubling days, it’s good to know that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness, and God is working for our good. These are truths upon which we can depend and which will sustain our faith. We may not understand what God is doing, or how he could possibly allow things to happen as he did in our lives. But we know from this passage that he is working for our good, and from the rest of Scripture that he deeply desires that in every situation we turn to him in repentance and faith. The object of that faith is Jesus, who – out of the most horrific experience of injustice – stayed true to God, entrusting himself to the Father, won eternal salvation for all, and has been exalted to the right hand of God where he intercedes for his people.