Creation Groaning

This morning, I was reading in Romans 8 – words so fitting for the moment we find ourselves in. Romans 8 begins by telling us that in Christ we are set free from the law of sin and death. Sin and death are still very real; sadly, this is all too obvious. But for the follower of Jesus, sin and death are not our ultimate destiny.

But there’s more, for what is true for us as creatures, is also true for all of creation. In verses 19 & following, Paul talks about creation eagerly and expectantly awaiting our redemption. But it’s not just ours; creation is desperate for its freedom, too. In verse 21, Paul makes clear that our freedom is creation’s freedom; that God’s redemptive purposes are not individualistic; they cover all that He has made.

I find these words immensely hopeful, in a time that feels hopeless to so many. Even as many groan for more – for things to be what they are meant to be – Paul says that creation cries out, too. It was groaning in his day, and the groaning continues, 2000 years later – for healing, for wholeness, for hope.

The promise of scripture – the promise of God – is that our groanings have an answer. That answer is found in the redemptive work of Jesus – a work that restores lives, families, communities, and reaches into every corner of creation. It’s a work we’re called to be a part of now. As believers, we must work for the new day we believe is coming – even as we, along with all of creation, lament all the ways it is not yet a reality.

For this is what Hope looks like: holding fast to what will come, while working to live that reality now. Knowing what God will do, Hope does the hard work of shining the light of God’s redemption now – even as we long for it to come, completely and forever.

And the promise we have, is that one day, it will. Even so, Lord Jesus, come!

Overlooked Verses

Some of the most powerful — and overlooked — verses in the Bible can be found in the “lament” songs. These laments are a part of the book of Psalms, and are very powerful in their sheer honesty and desperation:

  • Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain? (Psalm 2.1)
  • O Lord, how many are my foes! (3.1)
  • Answer me when I call, O God of my right! (4.1)
  • Give ear to my words, O Lord; give heed to my sighing. (5.1)
  • O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger. (6.1)
  • Why, o Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? (10.1; all quotes are from NRSV)

The words above come from the first verse of some of the first psalms. Six of the first ten psalms are a cry for help, and there are many more just like them in the rest of the book.

Lament is an oft-overlooked part of the Bible, and of prayer. We love celebration, and joy, and the feel-good elements of our faith. And certainly, there are many. But do your prayers ever give voice to pain, struggle, hurt, even anger and doubt? If not, you might want to rethink your prayer life — because the prayers in the Psalms are full of such realities.

In fact, Jesus himself is recorded as offering a prayer of lament from the cross. In Matthew 27.46, Jesus cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” — words that come straight from Psalm 22.

There are very few services where we can focus on lament and struggle, but Good Friday is certainly one of them. And while lament is never the final word on pain or hurt or sin, it is always a part of what we need to say. We must always remember the victory of Easter, but we also must never forget that we don’t get to the victory of Easter without first going through the defeat of Good Friday.

This year at Fern Creek Christian, we will have an opportunity to spend some time at the cross on Good Friday. We will spend some time reflecting on the darkness of that day — the darkness that had to be overcome before the light of Easter could dawn.

I am so grateful for Easter, and look forward to celebrating that at Fern Creek. But I am also grateful for Good Friday, a day when Jesus took on my pain, my doubt, my hurt, and my sin. And I’m looking forward to a few moments this Good Friday to remember that.