“All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”
– Romans 8:22-28 (MSG)
A few years ago, I wondered if there was some kind of virus spreading from one appliance to another in our house. We googled symptoms and discovered we had a Possession Plague.
This was before a real plague hit the world. It was back in the days that we feared a stomach bug every now and then when someone we knew got sick, but generally, we assumed we could live and breathe the air safely wherever we went.
Back then, when our ancient refrigerator emitted sputtering and sizzling sounds, we admired how he expressed his frustration with old age.
But then he decided twenty degrees was good enough for the ice cream. Since we were not a people who played around with our cookies ‘n cream, we called Home Depot for a $20 haul away service. Old Silver went to a better place. We received a Christmas card from him that December. It was precious.
While the fridge sputtered, the radiator exploded in my old Sequoia. Then the battery died because it forgot how to keep the headlights off. She wasn’t the vehicle she once was, but she never was a regular car. Bessie was– Bessie is– a Cool Car. To prove this, the check engine light still regularly gets LIT to this day.
The Appliance Plague continued back then with our TWDE (The Worst Dishwasher Ever). While the fridge dropped it like it was hot and the car refused to hide her little light, TWDE filled slimy, disgusting, awful mold.
Thankfully, the washing machine held up okay, but the White Witch of Narnian fame moved into our dryer. Every load ran for an hour and twenty minutes, but I still had to hang the heavy towels up to finish drying.
What I’m saying is that 2020 AND 2021 aren’t the first time it has seemed like everything is broken.
Remembering this helps me to see better.
Which is good, because I desperately long to be able to see clearly here.
I used to cope with hard things by imagining all the ways God would ride in to rescue us all. The downside to that was it set God up to really disappoint me sometimes. 2020 cured me of that particular dysfunctional coping, though.
Yes, God is a rescuer. However, he plays the long game.
Let’s stare through the brokenness into the light of Romans:
“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along…He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked out into something good.”
Yes, the world sometimes seems full of brokenness, but because of Jesus the trauma can’t kill us. In fact, we’re pregnant with eternity.
It’s rainy here in Austin today. I’m making homemade soup and waiting for something good to be born by God, through the pain, through my life, and through yours. I’m eating my favorite Christmas candy and drinking all the coffee while I read all my books.
Somewhere up ahead, there God is birthing goodness in us, through us, and with us. Until then, we have the Holy Spirit as a kind of midwife, holding us as we labor through the discomfort and pain.
Here’s to laboring well into 2022.
(Also, I hope all your appliances are well and whole today. Amen.)