Groaning

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 vacillates beyond our control. Add to all this earthquakes in places like Haiti, Chile, and Japan; the tornadoes and flooding in the US; hurricanes on the East coast.

We’re groaning.

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.

We’re groaning.

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.

We’re groaning.

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.

We are indeed groaning.

Should I go on to mention cancer or AIDS or fears of a worldwide pandemic? I suspect it’s not necessary.

At every turn, we’re groaning.

Like any number of crises recorded in the Bible, God 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 we only marry the right guy or girl, pass this piece of legislation or that, solve one key problem then another, use this green technology or drill that oil well, then, at last, the world will come round aright.

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. And even while we wait for that day, we find comfort and peace and joy in the presence of the only One who can see us through. The Psalmist says, “He Himself knows our frame.” And Moses in Deuteronomy says, “The Lord your God is the One who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” God through Isaiah says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.”

Paul tells us in Romans that the Spirit groans, too. For us. “The Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

The world groans under the weight of sin, but God through Jesus Christ has conquered sin. Praise His Name.

Easter, which is coming up later this month, is all about commemorating what Jesus Christ did to free us from the slavery to sin. But unless we acknowledge the weight of sin, we won’t appreciate what God accomplished through His Son.

Sometimes I think people have to be blind not to see the effects of sin. But we are so used to the things that break God’s heart and that harm humankind, we take them as “normal.” They aren’t. What God created was good. What we’ll enjoy in the new heaven and the new earth will be free from the “slavery to corruption.” And even now we can enter into the “freedom of the glory of the children of God.”

This post is a revised and expanded version of one that first appeared here in September 2011.

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Published in: on April 7, 2017 at 6:49 pm  Comments (22)  
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22 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Beautiful–one of your best. J.

    Like

  2. Reblogged this on Truth in Palmyra and commented:
    I won’t add a word to this and risk messing up this great, and very real thought.

    Blessings and enjoy!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi, I really think you are on the wrong track here. You are living in the past just like many religions and their committed followers do I might add.

    What you have conveniently forgotten is that the population of the world has risen from about 3 billion people in 1960 to almost 7 billion today. In effect the population has more than doubled in a short time and why bad things have increased so rapidly and this is one reason why technology and science has advanced so quickly over the last hundred and fifty years.

    Think about how lucky you are to have survived nuclear weapons and accidents, diseases, natural disasters and terrorist attacks etc. There may be a lot of bad people, bad science and corruption in our world but the good non-corrupted people and especially the good science has pulled us through these times because humans and all animals alike are resilient as they have always been and will evolve or adapt to their circumstances and you should be very happy about that.

    I am glad you have your religious crutch to help you handle this cruel world, but please do not think that if we all became Christians and followed the petty marriage laws, discriminated against certain people and followed Biblical morals or prayed to the Christian God every day the world would be a better place because there is absolutely no evidence to support that belief or the existence of any god.

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    • Steve, thanks for your comment. It’s interesting to read your thoughts.

      The line that stood out to me is this: “I am glad you have your religious crutch to help you handle this cruel world,.” Despite everything you wrote in the previous two paragraphs, you identify the world as cruel. Which is precisely what this post is about.

      But instead of pretending that it isn’t all that bad because, of course bad people have exponentially increased in number as the world population has exploded and because we’ve been lucky enough and resilient enough to survive, I’d rather face the truth. I don’t find the truth to be a crutch. I’m sorry you do.

      I’m sorry you have deluded yourself to think that we survived nuclear weapons because we’re resilient. Actually, if a nuclear weapon was release our way, no amount of resiliency would have insured our survival. Or maybe you think that’s the lucky part.

      I find it interesting that you believe in luck but not God.

      What evidence do you have for luck? What book has revealed luck to you? How is belief in luck not a crutch to get you through the troubling times we live in?

      On the other hand, God is hardly a crutch. He is not a tool for humankind. Rather He is over all, ruling that which He’s created.

      What evidence do we have for God? Look up at the stars and tell yourself those came about by accident. The heavens, all of nature, really, shouts that there is in fact a Creator who brought our universe into being.

      Perhaps you aren’t aware that there are scientists who have begun to question the idea that our universe came about accidentally. Here’s a fairly short video that makes the point–the scientist is a biologist named Douglas Axe.

      Becky

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi again Rebecca,
        The world is cruel to some more than others, and I base my view on the fact that we are all not given an even chance in life or we are not all born equal with equal chances to make a happy life on our planet. I am thinking of an extreme situation such as 20,000 children who die each day from disease and hunger to make this point.

        I did not say our planet was not all that bad or good for that matter, however I did offer basic reasons as to why it has become worse, rather than your pretence that we are all getting worse and laden with masses of sin.

        You must understand your article was about people rejecting and not accepting the Christian God into their lives and this was your reasoning that our planet is groaning in such a poor state of affairs. I can only believe your religion is used as a crutch by people such as yourself to make you feel better through your exclusive and blameless perception by shaking your head in disgust at the death and destruction and shaming non-believers for the state of our world.

        There is no evidence to substantiate any such delusion, and in fact there is absolutely no evidence that countries that are mostly Christian, are any better than a more secular country, so you should face up to the truth.

        I may have had a typo but I did not mean we had survived a nuclear strike, my reasoning is we have so far avoided this scenario and it is possibly due to some good people or maybe some good old common sense in high places and to some extent good and bad luck will often play its part.

        God does not exist but Luck does and affects us all, I know it exists, it is either good or bad and is found when people win a lottery, it is found on the football field, when people either survive or do not survive a disaster, we could say we are lucky to be born in a country with human rights and luck is a part of our everyday lives. Surely, I do not need to offer any more examples as evidence that it exists and tell me why luck would not exist in your very ancient and illusory world view?

        You can look up at the stars and romanticise your creation fantasy for as long as you like but you can put up any creationist or intelligent design scientist such as Douglas Axe and his Biologic Institute that conducts biological research to provide evidence of intelligent design against proper scientists such as Darwin, Dawkins, Krauss, Harris or Hawkins and compare how many scientific papers that have been presented and accepted by the scientific community from creationist scientists, and there is no contest, does that not say something profoundly obvious to you?

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      • Hi, Steve. Thanks for your thoughtful answer. Let me take your points in reverse order. You mention that there are many more scientists who have written more articles. But I dare say there were more intelligent, well-informed people who said the world was flat, too, than the few voices that said it was round. In other words, a large number doesn’t insure truth.

        I find it interesting that you said nothing to contradict Dr. Axe’s findings or to refute what the stars in the sky tell us—that there is order that precludes the idea of a random beginning. Calling the evidence “your creation fantasy” is just a statement of your belief, not of fact.

        I find it baffling that you believe in luck but not in God, Steve. I asked before what evidence, what revelation you have for a belief in luck, and you sited a few things like winning the lottery that could just as easily be ascribe to God.

        You have not in any way established luck as a real thing that exists independent of humans. What is luck, in your way of thinking? Do you think there is some cosmic, immaterial force that determines the random good or bad people experience? How did that come about through the Big Bang and evolution? And if you concede that it is neither part of the philosophy of beginnings or of evolution, then what is it? In your thinking, was it “luck” that caused matter and energy to come together in the first place?

        But I’ll ask again, how do you know something happens because of luck and not because of God?

        And please, don’t say, Because God doesn’t exist. That’s an answer that only someone who has predetermined God does not exist would give before thinking things out.

        Steve, from your comments about the groaning of this world and its “poor state of affairs” I can tell you don’t know what Christians believe—what the Bible teaches—about how sin affects our planet, or about the solution.

        We are not looking for Christianity to spread because we believe more Christians will usher in an end to crime or famine or disease. Christians, you need to understand, are sinners. We sin. Even after we come to Christ for forgiveness, we sin. Not because we want to. But we have lived under the shackles of sin for so long, it’s easy to fall into old habits and patterns. And sometimes we sin without realizing what we’re doing.

        The point is, of course the world will still have a problem, even if the majority of people were believers.

        We need to be refashioned into the likeness of Jesus—remade in His mold, if you will. And that is happening now, but won’t be finished this side of heaven.

        But the “masses of sin” you mention are not the problem as much as they are the evidence. The problem is rejecting God.

        So there’s no “shaming” of non-believers. We Christians own sin just like everyone else. The difference is, through no effort of our own, we enjoy God’s forgiveness,. The forgiveness you or anyone else can also enjoy.

        But here and now sin will persist.

        Truthfully it is going unchecked with more frequency, which is the real answer for the uptick of evil. More people died in the 20th century due to war than in all the other centuries combined! That’s not just a product of more people.

        But back to today, a group of Coptic Christians are blown up in Egypt and we don’t do more than tsk, tsk, tsk, and go on about our day. We accept sin and the death that results as if that’s normal. It’s not. If you’ve ever had someone close to you die, you know by intuition, death is wrong.

        It’s why people try to stay alive for as long as possible, why we talk about a fight with cancer, for example. We understand death is the enemy—the enemy of us all. And death comes as the consequence of sin.

        So we Christians turn to the only one who had no sin, the only one who was qualified to do something about sin. We turn to Jesus Christ and accept His offer to cancel out our debt, and we invite people everywhere to come along with us and enjoy the same forgiveness.

        That’s the answer to the groaning that’s going on around us. We have peace with God and the promise of life eternal.

        You can call it a fantasy, Steve, but I’ve got it in black and white. It’s a concrete promise, written in ink—words from God through His Spirit delivered via the men He chose to speak through.

        Becky

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you, Rebecca, for your thoughts. The flat earth society still exists today and as people of religion these people also live in the past. Apart from that, the people of early times that thought the earth was flat had minimal scientific knowledge to be able to accurately identify the shape of the Earth, and in fact thought the horizon was the edge of the world. This was not ignorance or wanton blindness, it was realistic to them at the time.

          You and all religious people do not have the same excuse, you have science and knowledge that is far greater than anything beforehand, however religions reject reality because it does not support their old-world mythology.

          I call your creation beliefs fantasy because of the weight of contrary evidence and the 90% of scientists who will say you are totally wrong, it is as simple as that. This is not a just a statement of belief it is factual, nothing more nothing less.

          Just as I thought, you believe God is sitting in the sky pulling the levers for every single event that happens to every human on the planet at every second of every day. Honestly Rebecca, I do not mean to be rude, but if you believe this you certainly do not realise how ridiculous that concept is.

          I did not want to establish anything about luck, why does it have to be something like a cosmic immaterial force? You make it sound like a spiritual belief or something we need to dissect and philosophise about so that we can attribute it to God but it is simply just part of the haphazardness of life, it exists because of existence. Criminals can win millions in lottery prizes and Murderers often live to a grand old age, children always suffer in agony somewhere and lightning strikes whatever it likes, nothing like this can be planned by anybody, especially a loving God, right?

          The 20th century had far more advanced technical weaponry than previous centuries and they have much higher kill rates. This combined with warfare practices and the combat tactics of ground forces in early wars that were to see men as cannon fodder. Therefore, there is more to this issue than your insinuation that we have all become eviler.

          Why are you complaining about death of a group of Coptic Christians that are blown up, did God not decide this or maybe some bad luck played a part in this event? Death comes because we are human animals, we are no different in basic biology than a donkey. “Promise of eternal life” you say, if scientists cannot do it Rebecca, it does not exist until they can.

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        • Hi, Steve, I’m answering you here because of the way the comments are indented. It gets hard to read the skinny columns.

          I don’t know if I mentioned this in an earlier post or not, but it’s clear that you think much like other atheists do—that we Christians believe God answers the unknown and therefore the more we know about our world, the less we should believe in God, because given enough time we can answer all the questions.

          But that’s not the God of the Bible, not the God Christians know. He is also not sitting somewhere pulling levers. He is, however, sovereign.

          I don’t know if you’ve ever been in charge of a group of people before, Steve. I have. I taught school for years. At times I was in charge on the playground. I was the “ruler” who oversaw everything. Sometimes I intervened to keep kids safe, sometimes I disciplined, sometimes I let them figure things out on their own. I wasn’t pulling levers. But I was involved and keeping my eye out for what was going on.

          Now that was me, finite me who didn’t see everything. But I think it’s a glimpse of God’s sovereignty. The difference is that He is all knowing and therefore doesn’t miss things.

          You’re free to disagree with His decisions all you want, but since He is not only sovereign but perfect, you’d be wrong and He’d be right.

          But back to the topic, Christians are not living in the past. We don’t shrink from science. Why would we? We believe that the very laws of nature you and I believe in are the laws God put in motion.

          The laws don’t create anything. They are human descriptions of what we see taking place. The laws do not cause the activity. The laws describe the activity. So belief in the laws of nature do not contradict the existence of God.

          You again brought up a majority of scientists, and you claim this is a significant majority (90% ? Doubtful, but we’ll work with it). But that still doesn’t prove anything. A significant majority can still be wrong!

          It is far more reasonable to believe in intelligent design, at the least, than that in the beginning particles and energy existed and somehow got together which somehow created life which somehow developed into increasingly advanced forms which somehow developed a moral compass.

          Now that is incredible. You can see in our world that x may produce y. But have you ever seen x produce x? That would be saying that the product produced itself.

          That is not consistent with the science you say you think to be true.

          I don’t know why you believe in luck at all, Steve, since you can’t define it. How is it even a thing? If it’s random, that’s completely different than “good luck” or “bad luck.” You aren’t unlucky if a drunk driver crashes into your car. You’re a victim of a crime. If a tree crashes into your house, is that bad luck or the natural consequences of wind and shallow roots? There are causes for things, even the ones you think are random. If luck is one of the causes, then I’d like to see your evidence that it exists.

          As far as the cruelty of this world, you said, “Therefore, there is more to this issue than your insinuation that we have all become eviler.” You’re missing the point. Even in WWI soldiers fought soldiers, not civilians. But in WWII and every war thereafter, civilians have either been fair game or collateral damage, and that speaks to the evil of our hearts. We can kill more people with the advanced technology, and the part that shows the growing evil of our hearts is that we do kill more people because we now can.

          Even in our own history, war had rules, but now ISIS uses suicide bombers to kill and maim people who have nothing to do with the territory they are trying to control. They kill as a statement of their beliefs, but so does the Syrian regime. They use illegal chemical weapons in order to further their power. And that’s evil.

          I’m sorry you have no hope for life after this life, Steve. Your instinct should tell you that you have a purpose, that you were not intended to die. Other people do. That’s why so many talk about their “legacy.” They want to think of themselves as going on after their time on earth is over. That’s normal.

          Science will never deliver eternal life. That is something that comes as a free gift from the God you reject.

          It makes me sad to think you won’t accept what is freely offered.

          Becky

          Liked by 1 person

          • Hi Rebecca, atheists all have different ideas about religion just as many theists do, the only thing we have in common is that no gods exist. Some Christians say God controls everything, some say he steps in when he feels like it because it is part of his plan, and I guess there are many more concepts so it is difficult to know what brand of Christian is commenting.

            You make a statement “He is all knowing and therefore doesn’t miss things.” With your analogy are you are saying he knows it all but will not interfere in everything but why then does he interfere in some things? I do not disagree with his decisions because he does not exist outside of indoctrinated Christian minds.

            Creationist and intelligent design scientists number about 3% of the worlds scientists because in 2009 a survey conducted by the Pew Research Centre for the People & the Press found that most scientists (97%) say humans and other living things have evolved over time.

            You say “It is far more reasonable to believe in intelligent design,” You may think it more reasonable, however the scientific evidence we have does not support what can only be induced ignorance, hence the numbers above. You also claim, “A significant majority can still be wrong!” For 150 years biological evolution has been found to be basically very solid and evidence has increased almost every year and evolution is accepted today with the same conviction that the Earth revolves while orbiting the sun. “A significant majority can still be wrong!” is more suited to involve all religious beliefs.

            The universe is vast and likely has certain variations of life forms on planets scattered beyond our comprehension. The fact that elements or particles bonded accidently or were seeded on our earth by a meteorite or an advanced intelligence located in another solar system are far more viable and reasonable scientific deductions with more logic than a human looking type of God conducting the universe from the sky at his leisure.

            If it was a God that created everything who created this God, was it Zeus who is a much older than your God? The moral compass you mention was an evolutionary trait along with many others that is now strongly argued to exist in other animal species.

            I can and have defined luck but your religiously trained brain is one dimensional and does not allow you to see it. The randomness is that your car is in that particular place on that particular time to be crashed into and obviously also bad luck. The randomness of the tree falling on your house and not into the neighbours during just that one windy day from many windy days and again is bad luck. Now if you sold the house and it happened to the new owners on the next day it would be called good luck for you and bad luck for him, right? What do you call a lottery winner if it is not good luck with randomly selected numbers? Gods will?

            “The evil of our hearts” has nothing to do with the highly-advanced firepower of today and the higher concentration of populations with terrorists using civilians as human shields makes collateral damage unavoidable under these circumstances. Your assumption about the first world war is wrong, over 2 and a quarter million died from military action and crimes against humanity.

            I do have hope that I can live until a decent old age, unlike you, I am neither frightened nor fooled into believing an ancient fable that says that life is eternal on the other side of the fence. My instinct tells me to live a good healthy life for as long as I can while I can, and my purpose in life is to look after my daughter and myself and make our lives as meaningful and happy as possible. I am a human animal and I am not privileged over and above the laws of nature to have an eternal life that you believe is normal.

            You may feel sad that I cannot relent to indoctrination in your religion, however, I feel like many atheists, obstructed and frustrated that people like yourself are unable to see past your cranially embedded ancient doctrine and understand the realities of life in this scientifically amazing world of today.

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  4. Hi Becky

    I apologize, as I have seemingly sent folks this way who you may not enjoy much.

    Meet my friend Steve, who has come to convert you LOL. He believes strongly in saving we Christians from ourselves.

    Hi Steve!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Wally, sorry if I am getting you into trouble, but I am quite sure Rebecca will see the logic.

      Like

      • Well of course Steve. Anybody with a brain, not suffering from mental illness would immediately succumb to your clear, well thought out, and compelling arguments and immediately reject faith and become atheist.

        Thank God I was born both stupid and insane, or I too would give in.

        Ha ha ha ha ha

        Enjoy yourself hear, Steve. Becky is probably 800 times smarter than me.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you for sharing this, Wally! We are so BLESSED to know that God is not a fable or fairy tale!

          Liked by 1 person

          • We are indeed blessed Elizabeth, thanks and have a wonderful Lord’s day today!

            Liked by 2 people

    • No worries, Wally. I don’t have any problem listening to what Steve has to say.

      And Steve, you can rest easy. Wally is not in trouble with me. For one thing, he’s my brother in Christ, so I am not going to get bent out of shape over one blog share. Besides, I rather like dialoguing with people who have different opinions. So you can be sure, I’m not upset with him at all.at all..

      Becky

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      • Have a blessed day Becky!

        😆

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        • God IS a sovereign God. I couldn’t get my car started when I went to leave for church. So I decided to answer your comments instead. Thanks for sharing the article, Wally.

          Becky

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          • I’m sorry about the car Becky! Did you get some help? Actually, thank you for writing it.

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          • I have AAA so I’ll call tomorrow and if it’s something other than the battery they can tow it to my mechanic.

            Thanks for asking, Wally.

            Becky

            Liked by 1 person

          • 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  5. By the way Rebecca I thought I would share this with you. Persian scriptures of people called Zoroastrians, the Avesta (similar to your Biblical texts) that is the primary collection of religious texts of Zoroastrianism composed in the otherwise unrecorded Avestan language. These texts date back as far as the 10th century B.C. being the oldest of the revealed world-religions and tells the story of how Ormuzd created the world and the first two humans in six days and then rested on the seventh.

    If that similarity does not ring a bell it is even more uncanny that names of these two humans were called Adama and Evah.

    If this is not a coincidence is it convincing enough for you to question your faith in the Christian exclusiveness because there is plenty more just like this?

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