'Brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh-- for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ-- if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.'
--Romans 8: 12-25The poet Emily Dickinson wrote that hope is the thing with feathers; that perches in the soul; and sings the tune without the words; and never stops at all. That sounds a lot like the Holy Spirit to me, perching in our souls, singing without words and never, ever stopping. The Spirit is God’s agent of hope in a world that, right now, desperately needs it.
Look around you and you will find hope, but it is not the pie-in-the-sky, high, high hope. It is the kind of hope embodied by those who refuse to accept sickness, death, and injustice as a “new normal.” This is the hope preached by the prophets of old and by modern prophets like Archbishop Tutu, Dr. King, and Congressman John Lewis, who died this weekend. This is the hope Jesus gave to the outcast and marginalized. And this is the hope we need. There is light in this darkness, brothers and sisters, and there is glory on the other side that will be revealed to us, to which these present sufferings won’t even compare. Our God has already won and will win again. And our God has called each of us a beloved child.
Congressman John Lewis
That belovedness does not keep us from suffering, but it does free us to see that our future does not have to be a repeat of our past. So let your groans be heard and mingle with the very labor pains of creation, and from those cries may you find the hope to meet the challenges of today and ensure a glorious tomorrow.