We ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
In Romans 8:23, Paul wrote, “We ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” Those of us who are children of God suffer in this world. Even those of us who have received the Holy Spirit groan from our suffering.
If you do not believe that, join me sometime in walking the hallway of a hospital. Or stand by an open grave with a mother or father as they say goodbye to their child. Or listen to the cries of a husband or wife who discovers their mate has been unfaithful. Through their inconsolable cries, you can hear that groaning. We groan in this world. And while suffering is something that every person experiences, Christians suffer more in this life than non-Christians. Why is that?
There are three reasons Christians suffer more than non-Christians in this world. First of all, we suffer more because of our sensitivity to sin. Unlike non-Christians, Christians are especially sensitive to sin in this world, to sin in other people, and to sin within themselves. David talked about this in Psalm 38:4, 10. He said, “My iniquities are gone over my head; as a heavy burden they weigh too much for me. … My heart throbs, my strength fails me; and the light of my eyes, even that has gone from me.” A non-Christian does not feel that way about sin. But those who have the Holy Spirit feel the suffering that comes from their own sin.
Second, we suffer because of persecution for our faith. Christians living in an ungodly world suffer for standing up for their faith. In 1 Peter 4:12-13, Peter said, “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.”
The third reason Christians suffer more than non-Christians is because of an expectation of something better. Non-Christians have nothing to look forward to in the next life. But we do. In Romans 8:23, Paul said, “We ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” Just like creation is standing on its tiptoes looking for something better, we who are the children of God are also looking for something better. What are we looking for? Paul said we are looking forward to “our adoption as sons.” The day is going to come when you get to trade in your sin-filled, disease-ridden body that is prone to suffering, sin, disease, and death for a brand-new body from God that will never know sin, will never know sickness, and will never displease God. That is your inheritance, and it is forever. The Bible says we wait eagerly for that day.