In the fullness of time

One last short reflection on Romans 8, with thanks to my colleague Sharon Hargrave.  It has to do with Paul’s rather earthy metaphor: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Rom 8:22, NIV).

Now there’s an image many of us can relate to.  My parents were of the generation in which husbands paced back and forth in the waiting room when their wives delivered.  I, however, was of the generation in which husbands were trained as LaMaze coaches instead–“Okay, honey, remember to breathe“-panting in rhythm and watching the baby’s head crown.  I won’t pretend to know personally what my wife suffered in the labor process.  But I do remember the utter joy and relief that washed over us both when it was all over and our daughter entered the world.

Much of what I’ve written in the last two posts was offered as a meditation on hope during a departmental meeting of our students and faculty.  I mused that I had mostly thought of labor pain as a convenient metaphor for burdensome suffering with a joyous end, but had myopically missed the thematic connection with Paul’s emphasis on the revelation of God’s children.

Afterward, as we were breaking for lunch, Sharon pulled me aside and added this insight: a woman may groan through pregnancy and delivery, but she doesn’t want the baby to come early.

The deliverance from groaning, the joy of birth–all must happen in the fullness of time.  How might this shape our understanding of both patience and hope?

A pregnant thought indeed.