Sixty-four years ago today, Nate Saint and four other American missionaries were killed by the Auca tribe (now called Waoranis) in Ecuador while trying to share the gospel. Their story inspired thousands of people to dedicate their lives to missions, particularly to minister to unreached people groups. Decades later, Nate’s son Steve reflected on what happened to his father, as well as the bond he had now built with the tribe, declaring, “What the Waorani meant for evil, God used for good.”
In our Scripture reading today, Paul acknowledges to the believers in Rome that there would be pain, suffering, and mourning on this earth. He describes these feelings as “groans” or “groaning” (vv. 22, 23, and 26). In the original language, a groan could also mean an inward, unexpressed feeling of sorrow. There is no doubt that when we receive awful news about a friend, are given a life-altering diagnosis, or lose a loved one, we feel an enormous amount of “groaning.” Sometimes, it may even be difficult to know how to pray. Paul says in verse 26 and 27 that during these times the Spirit Himself intercedes on our behalf.
Paul then changes the dynamics of his thoughts and boldly declares that even in the midst of suffering, God is still in control! He promises to use even our groaning for His good (vv. 28–30). Paul asserts that God’s sovereignty is ultimately for the Lord’s glory. This reflects what Jesus told His disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Even though pain and suffering are common to all of us, God can and will use our groaning for His good.
>> Have you seen God use a difficult circumstance in your life for His good? Even when we don’t know how to pray, we can ask the Holy Spirit to intercede for us. Perhaps something significant is happening to a friend or a family member today. Spend time praying for them during this time of groaning.