This world is groaning. It’s the weight of sin that causes it, and it’s been going on for … well, since Eve believed Satan over God.
I can’t help but wonder, though, if we as human beings aren’t more aware of the groaning than at any point in history. Terrorism has people across the globe on heightened alert. War and rebellion are tearing nations apart. Famine is on the increase, and the economy of the rich countries is in a shambles. Add to all this the earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, Japan, and most recently, Nepal; the tornadoes and flooding in the Midwestern US; snow storms on the East coast in the winter and hurricanes in the summer; and don’t forget the tsunami that devastated an already devastated Japan.
Professing Christians are leaving the church. Government—democratic government that was supposed to have the necessary checks and balances—is self-serving, if not corrupt. Marriage is being redefined. In other words, civilized institutions are crumbling.
The weight of sin is too big. Drug addiction isn’t lessening. Anxiety isn’t disappearing no matter how much we medicate. Neither is depression. Interpersonal conflicts haven’t ceased. In fact divorce is still a growing problem no matter that so many people now practice at marriage before making “lifetime” vows. Abuse continues or perhaps is on the increase. Child slavery and sex trafficking are problems that seem without end.
Worst of all, who can we trust? The person we love the most is the person who shatters our hopes and betrays us by their unfaithfulness. Our leaders are tarnished, our celebrities are in and out of rehab. Our pastors are selling get-rich religion or everybody-goes-to-heaven credos fabricated from their own minds.
We are indeed groaning.
Should I go on to mention cancer or AIDS or the fears of a worldwide pandemic? I suspect it’s not necessary.
At every turn, we’re groaning.
As God did during any number of crises recorded in the Bible, He is standing with open arms saying, Your way leads to destruction. My way leads to life.
Over and over stiff-necked people ignored Him or shook their fists in His face, denying His right to rule. So it seems, we’re doing today.
We think if we just get the right person in the White House, if we only raise taxes or cut spending, if only we’d pass an arms deal with Iran or give more aid to Israel, if we would only put boots on the ground and take care of ISIS or withdraw from the Middle East and let them fight their own battles, if only we’d pass this piece of legislation or that, solve one key problem then another, use this green technology or drill for oil there, then, at last, the world will come round aright.
Personally we think, if only we could marry this person or get out from under a bad relationship, if only we could get hired for that job or get the promotion we had our eye on, if only we could live in a better neighborhood, had a nicer car, could afford a good vacation, didn’t have to work such long hours, had kids, didn’t have kids, if only things were different, life would be better.
In that foolish thinking, we are ignoring the One who wants us to fix our eyes on His Son.
“See to it,” Paul said to the Colossians, “that no one takes you captive through philosophy or empty deception according to the traditions of men, according to the elementary principles of this world, rather than according to Christ.”
The philosophy and empty deception of our day says we can solve our own problems, that we don’t need anything outside ourselves. We have the power within us.
And yet, with all this great power within ( 🙄 ), we don’t seem any closer to bringing the groaning to an end. We’re looking in the wrong places.
There isn’t a chemical high or an alcohol-induced haze that will mask the pain long enough, there isn’t a movie or video game or concert or ballgame that will distract us sufficiently, there isn’t a better relationship that will heal our shattered heart.
Except the one God offers through Christ Jesus. He is our Hope, and He is our Salvation.
In Him the groaning will one day come to an end.
This article is an updated and revised version of an earlier one published here in September 2011.