Yesterday’s spiritual exercise asked us to read Romans 8:18-25 and asked us to consider the following:
What are the particular highlights or milestones of my life, including my life of faith? Note both the highs and the lows, the times of great hope and of challenge or “groaning.”
Getting into a college with a NROTC scholarship was a milestone. Studying abroad in France was certainly a milestone. Getting into SEAL training was a milestone. Quitting SEAL training was a challenge and time of “groaning.” Starting to pursue side projects and entrepreneurial projects were highs. Being unemployed was a low. Right now I’m currently stable and generally feeling good.
The times when I felt like I didn’t have a “path” were the most desolate. Not having a plan and not having something to work towards led to incredible feelings of isolation and sadness.
The times when I had concrete goals were the most satisfying, even if they ended up being the wrong goals. Training to get into BUD/s was rewarding. Trying to get TrekDek off the ground was fun and satisfying. Pursuing this project is fun.
People need a pursuit, or at least, I need a pursuit to feel good about life.
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.
If my interpretation is correct, it sounds like we were created with a desire for something greater. When we “groan inwardly,” when we feel sadness from stagnation, we are actually longing for God.
According to the passage, this is a feature, not a flaw.
Maybe when we pursue wealth or fame or knowledge, we are mistaking our desire for the divine with the desire for more worldly things.
When we don’t have any pursuits or goals to occupy our mind, the sadness is a signal, a wake-up call to pursue God. When we recognize that desire as a desire for God, for spiritual communion, we feel hope and consolation.
Perhaps we should add, “Pursue God” to our to-do list.