In the midst of our lives, and between the two great mountain peaks of God’s acts in the world, we look back and remember, and we look forward and hope!”
— A.W. Tozer, From Heaven, p. 108
We live in the land between two Comings. The first is what C.S. Lewis calls the Grand Miracle, the Incarnation…our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Second Person of the Trinity, became Man. He came to earth and lived our life, died our death, rose again so that we could become children of God who live with His life. And we remember and celebrate His coming.
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son… From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.”
— John 1: 14, 16-18 NLT
The second coming is the one we have yet to experience. We anticipate the time when Our Lord will come in all His glory to set everything right. He wins and we do too because we are in Him and will be revealed as all glorious because of that union. It’s our hope, our great expectation.
…your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
— Colossians 3:3b-4 NLT
But that raises the question, what about our life in-between? Yes, we remember and yes, we hope. But what about our today life? There’s a word that keeps jumping out at me from Romans, chapter 8 that expresses well our present experience on this earth: “groaning.” In fact, there are three groanings. See if you can spot them in this passage:
Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)
And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.”
— Romans 8:18-27 NLT
Did you see the three? The first is all creation is groaning. The fall has affected the entire material world. And we wonder why nature is out of whack and why circumstances don’t fall into place. At times, nothing is easy. Murphy’s Law really does take over more often than we’d like. Creation is not what it was supposed to be and what it will one day be…so it groans.
And then that’s not all…we groan. Our bodies don’t cooperate. They break down. They often don’t work the way it was intended. The design goes askew. A “St Jude Hospital” is needed but still can’t work miracles. Even God doesn’t always see fit to heal. Why? Our bodies haven’t entered into their full redemption. Our spirits have the first fruits of the Spirit, thank God. But our bodies? They are waiting to experience full redemption. So we groan in this In Between!
But hallelujah, we are not alone in this groaning. Did you see who is groaning along with us? That’s right, the Holy Spirit groans! He knows our weakness. And we certainly are laid low in the sufferings in this fallen world with our broken bodies longing for deliverance. He groans in us according to the will of God! Praise Him!
So even as we groan in our today, we do as A.W. Tozer says,
As members of His own loving fellowship…We sing His praise and we pray in His Name, remembering and expecting.“
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on A Branch in the Vine