Food for Friday

For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain until now. Romans 8:22

There is a little joke about how many mystery writers it takes to screw in a light bulb. It takes two, the first one to screw it most of the way in, and the second one to give it a surprising twist at the end. That is what good mystery writers do, keeping their readers in suspense and unable to figure out ‘whodunit’ until the final paragraph of the book. Our Bibles don’t really contain big surprises like that, but there are many portions of it that include a few words that change the ending in an incredible way. Our text is one of those.

None of us needs to be convinced of the pain that our creation is experiencing. The inhumanity that we see of some people towards others is appalling and sickening beyond measure. The dishonesty of individuals, corporations, and governments seems to never stop growing. The ravages of disease and substance abuse often shock us with their cruel effects. Around us swirl filth and hate and ignorance. And that is just looking at the people. Ever since our first parents were ushered out of Eden, all of nature around us – and much of it is magnificent and lovely despite the floods, earthquakes and fires – is in a minor tone compared to its beauty before the fall. As we consider all this groaning and travailing that Paul refers to in our text, we notice two little words that provide a surprising twist – until now.

This verse is written in the context of hope. As Paul writes of the agony around us, he reminds us in the very next verse of the redemption of our body. Although the world knows nothing of this hope, the blessed anticipation of the believer is that our Lord will come to pluck us from our groaning and travailing and usher us into His joyous and comforting presence forever. These words – until now – remind us that the great shout and the trump of God that triggers the rapture is imminent. No event or development needs to occur before the rapture does. As my dear grandmother reminded me the last time I visited her in the nursing home at 101 years of age, ‘perhaps today’. She was right. 

Even though we know the rapture is coming, it will surprise us when it occurs. It will also surprise us at how great will be our deliverance from the groaning and travailing we are enduring – until now. -Jim MacIntosh

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