God created a paradise and sin ruined it. Fortunately for us that is not the end of the story, creation is longing to be restored to the state it was created to be in, based on the promise of God. This promise was fulfilled in Jesus and now Paul describes the physical fulfillment of this promise as something creation is in anticipation for. He likens this waiting period to the labor pains of childbirth. The process might be hard and might take awhile but once started there is no way to stop it. And the end result makes the whole thing worth it.
Many people look around and make a judgment call based on what they see. They look at the state of our natural realm and see death and decay. Our news channels are filled with warnings of global warming ruining our environment. Many organizations rally the governments and it's citizens to save the planet. However, the Bible says that creation as already been saved.
After taking all of this in it would be easy to say that God hasn't fulfilled his promise to creation yet based on the natural evidence of this. However, when Jesus came, I John says, that he came to destroy the works of the devil ( I John 3:8 ). Since he has already come, Satan's power over creation has been destroyed. We know this because Jesus came the first time to reconcile us to the Father and he will come the second time to redeem us and take us home. Based on this we understand that creation has already received the first fruits of it's redemption because Jesus has sent to us the Holy Spirit to testify that we are his children. Paul said earlier in this chapter that this revelation of the sons of God is what creation has been waiting for ( Romans 8:19 ).
Paul uses the illustration of childbirth to illuminate this very truth and to help us understand that just because we cannot see it, doesn't mean it hasn't happened yet. Pregnancy is a sign that something already took place. When a child is conceived the evidence of this isn't apparent for a time, even to the women. A women doesn't become pregnant when there is evidence to support that she is bearing a child, a women becomes pregnant at conception of this child. This illustration helps us to understand that the physical evidence always follows the act. The spiritual always births the physical. Creations redemption is already complete in the spiritual realm and now it is experiencing the labor pains that have started announcing the physical manifestation of this.
The amazing thing about labor and childbirth is that afterward comes fullness of joy. The pains and hardship experienced are quickly forgotten once a baby is held in arms. Countless women cannot recall any details of their labor because the joy of motherhood is so great. Knowing what this type of suffering produces gives courage to all to endure it. The same is true with creation. Expectation of being restored to a perfect sinless existence is enough to endure hardship right now. Creation is waiting in anticipation for it's final redemption because it knows the One who promised is faithful. Today, I join with creation in praising our God, looking forward to that day when I will see him face to face. May you also join with us in celebration our full redemption through Christ Jesus, Amen!