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Dec 04, 2022

What are we waiting for? (Dec. 4)

What are we waiting for?  (Dec. 4)

Passage: Romans 8:18-27

Speaker: Patrick Lafferty

Series: 2022 Advent: Waiting is the Hardest Part

Waiting upon the Lord is more than merely biding your time or maintaining an even keel. Waiting means having particular expectations–your hopes set on particular objects that then affect how you think and respond to your present circumstances. Advent is precisely for the purpose of training our hearts to know and long for promises still at a distance. So what exactly are we waiting for?

Readings & Resources

PREPARATION: Isaiah 64:1, 3-4
LEADER: Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains might quake at your presence—

When you did awesome things that we did not look for,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.

ALL: From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
who acts for those who wait for him.

LEADER: Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord's hand
double for all her sins.
3 A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain….

ALL: 28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.

CENTRAL TEXT: Romans 8:18-27
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how we should pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes on behalf of the saints according to God’s will.

BENEDICTION: Revelation 21:1-5
LEADER: And I saw the holy city—the new Jerusalem—descending out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Look! The residence of God is among human beings. He will live among them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more—or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have ceased to exist.” And the one seated on the throne said:

ALL: “Look! I am making all things new!” Amen.


  • Genesis 3:17
  • Job 14:11-14
  • 1 Corinthians 15:44
  • 2 Corinthians 4:17
  • 2 Corinthians 5:7
  • Philippians 3:21
  • Hebrews 11:1, 6
  • Ephesians 2:8
  • 1 John 3:2


  1. It’s a personal question (perhaps one we’ve asked before?), but what’s been your hardest day to date? (You’re welcome to describe it generically.) What effects did (does) it have on you? How did you see the world differently afterward?
  2. What would you say is Paul’s main thought here about suffering?
  3. What would you say are the main implications of that thought?
  4. What all are we waiting for according to this passage? Why would that change everything to us? How might it change the way we see or think or feel about what you may have shared in question 1?
  5. What is the basis for belief in anything Paul is saying we may wait patiently for?
  6. How do we wait eagerly (wanting this to happen) and patiently (not giving up under duress) as we groan inwardly (acknowledging the weight of our difficulties)? What must we do? What must we depend on God to do to enable us to wait?
  7. Name one practical thing that would change for you if this truth became particularly persuasive and sweet for you. How might it affect an outlook, a regret, a relationship, or something else?



  • Tragedy is sacred. People's suffering is sacred. . . . I love the thing that I most wish had not happened. . . .Tolkien says, in a letter. . . : ‘What punishments of God are not gifts?’ So it would be ungrateful not to take everything with gratitude. It doesn't mean you want it. I can hold both of those ideas in my head. It's not the same thing as wanting it to have happened. But you can't change everything about the world. You certainly can't change things that have already happened. At every moment, we are volunteers. Stephen Colbert
  • The message of Christ isn’t that you can’t kill me. The message of Christ is you can kill me and that’s not death. Stephen Colbert
  • . . .the religious experience awaits the devastation or a trauma, not to bring you happiness or comfort, necessarily, but to bring about an expansion of the self — the possibility to expand as a human being, rather than contract. . . .This is [my late son] Arthur’s gift to me, one of the many. It is his munificence that’s made me a different person. [My wife] Susie, too. We’ve never felt more engaged in things. I say all this with huge caution and a million caveats, but I also say it because there are those who think there is no way back from the catastrophic event. That they will never laugh again. But there is, and they will. Nick Cave
  • MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. Thomas Merton
  • Our faith is in a God who has come to rescue his creation from the absurdity of sin, the emptiness and waste of death, and the forces — whether calculating malevolence or imbecile chance — that shatter living souls; and so we are permitted to hate these things with a perfect hatred. David Bentley Hart
  • . . .many children who have learned to cry Abba, Father, are yet far from the liberty of the sons of God. Sons they are and no longer children, yet they groan as being still in bondage!. . . .We are the sons of God the moment we lift up our hearts, seeking to be sons—the moment we begin to cry Father. But as the world must be redeemed in a few men to begin with, so the soul is redeemed in a few of its thoughts and wants and ways, to begin with: it takes a long time to finish the new creation of this redemption. Unspoken Sermons, George MacDonald
  • the day will come when there will be a re-made universe, infinitely obedient to the will of glorified and obedient men, when we can do all things, when we shall be those gods that we are described as being in Scripture. To be sure, it feels wintry enough still: but often in the very early spring it feels like that. Two thousand years are only a day or two by this scale. A man really ought to say, “The Resurrection happened two thousand years ago” in the same spirit in which he says, “I saw a crocus yesterday.” Because we know what is coming behind the crocus. The spring comes slowly down this way; but the great thing is that the corner has been turned. C.S. Lewis
  • . . .glory. . .good report with God, acceptance by God, response, acknowledgment, and welcome into the heart of things. The door on which we have been knocking all our lives will open at last. C.S. Lewis
  • To hope is a kind of foolishness. . . . to hope for a narratively unsatisfying ending: to hope for an unearned joy that changes the entire genre of our lives, that brings comedy from ruin. It is . . .to refuse any narrative of ourselves as uniquely heroic or uniquely brave, because we can withstand the wickedness of the world. It is a quieter kind of bravery: the conviction that, one day, we might not have to. It may not be narrative. But it remains, instead, poetry. Tara Isabella Burton
  • he who lives in hope danceth without music. George Herbert
  • the imagination must be shaped & formed so that the person responds in a certain way—with certain feelings—to an argument. Only after he has told many, many stories does the tempter return to direct persuasion. Alan Jacobs