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.
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.
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.