Futility Now, Glory Later

Today’s scripture: Romans 8:19-25 (NRSV) (The Message) (KJV) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Steve Adams):

“It is what it is.”
Life isn’t easy. The entire creation is trapped in decay and death — and none of its creatures can avoid it. Right now as I look at my dog’s beautiful face, I’m confronted with this reality. She’s about twelve years old now, and her face no longer has that youthful look it once had. Her eyes look older and there’s some gray around her nose. I don’t even want to think about what this signifies — that someday I’ll have to give her up.

Jesus Groaned
Even Jesus groaned when he walked the earth. When he saw Mary and the others weeping at his good friend Lazarus’ death, he “groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.” (John 11:33, KJV). And as he prepared to enter Lazarus’ grave — where his stinking corpse lay, dead for four days — he groaned again. Soon, though, Lazarus was transformed from the “bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21b). A healthy resurrected Lazarus walked out of the grave ! Jesus had just given a vivid preview of the glory which shall be revealed in each and every one of us!

Groaning Through the Ages
The Bible also tells of groaning:

  • animals in drought and famine (Joel 1:18)
  • wounded people (Jeremiah 51:52)
  • cold, drenched, naked, thirsty people who are exhausted from work (Job 23:12 and context)
  • Groaning under oppression, tyranny (Judges 2:18) and slavery (Ezekiel 2:23, Acts 7:24)

Taking a Good Thing to a Dangerous Extreme
At one time I was really into “positive thinking.” Unfortunately, though, I took this good principle to a harmful extreme. I wanted to be positive all the time! I even thought it might be possible to never regret or grieve. However, I soon discovered it’s impossible to do that and be mentally healthy. Now I know better. Let us never feel weak when we take time to grieve. God gives us all permission to do that!

There’s a New World Comin’!
The entire creation is groaning — and we’re all a part of it! We don’t want to get stuck in it, but we can’t avoid it. When a loved one dies, we groan. But, as always, God provides a way of deliverance. I Thessalonians 4:13 says we “sorrow not as those who have no hope.”

The Waiting is the Hardest Part
After the long nighttime of sorrow, morning breaks forth with the light of the sure hope of resurrection. We’ll see our loved ones again. And it won’t be in this wounded world, but in the age of glorious liberty and freedom from sin, deception, futility, and death. As the text implies, when a mother groans in childbirth, she has her mind set on her beautiful, beloved baby coming into the world — and, in the end, it’s OK! There’s a reason and a purpose for all the pain!

I Can Only Imagine
Think for a minute what heaven will be like. Here are a few things I’m looking forward to:

  • We’ll see Jesus face to face, and have eternity to spend with him.
  • We won’t “see through a glass darkly” anymore! No more uncertainty, doubt, fear, or confusion.
  • No more disease. No more pain. No more death. No more futility. Just unlimited time to spend with loved ones!

Thought for the day: Sometimes it’s good to spend some time facing the fact that we’re part of a wounded creation, so we aren’t so surprised when pain, loss, and grief come our way. But, let us never forget — let us have a steadfast mind of steel — that God has prepared eternity in God’s presence and with our loved ones, an age when we’ll have the freedom to fully consummate, express, and experience infinite, incomprehensible love. God is love! So for now, we wait with eager longing!

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.