PASSAGE: "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" (Romans 8:18-25).
QUESTION: Earthquakes, floods, Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
COMMENT: I've expanded your question about Romans 8:22, because I think it's vitally important that we understand and embrace the whole of this important passage from Paul's letter to the Roman church. As you suggest, we can certainly bring our own understanding to "the sufferings of the present time"—in addition to your list we might add futile wars, senseless violence in our homes and on our streets, and experiences of economic lack in far too many lives. Surely it is more urgently true than ever that "the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God."
And what does that statement mean? It means that these sufferings will only be healed when we—"the children of God"—allow our true, creative spiritual Power to be revealed. If we throw up our hands at the suffering we witness—and experience—we are refusing to be the solution we are here in human form to be. We must believe in the healing if we are to be the healing. And it's a waste of time, Paul seems to be saying, to look to the problem for some hint of a solution. We must "hope"—that is, we must believe in the solution—without any proof in the outer. If we could already see the end of suffering, we wouldn't need to hope for it. If it were already expressing, we wouldn't need to create it. We must absolutely know that the Power we are is infinitely greater and truer than the temporal experiences we witness.