A Prayer For Those Who Groan
OFTEN LOST IN the long list of problems that made up 2020 was the long list of natural disasters. It is as if the hurricanes and the wildfires took a back seat to COVID and the political and racial strife we experienced this past year. And yet, in many ways, it was a record-setting year when it came to “natural disasters.”
Caroline Cobb included these natural disasters as part of her reflection on this past year.
She wrote...“Wildfires and hurricanes, and in some cases riots and looting, have left many Americans with a tangible sense of the desolation Isaiah described: a land scorched and dry, cities plundered, a barren wilderness thick with thorns (Isaiah 24). But even as we grieve this desolation and work to bring God’s shalom to our cities and towns, may it prompt us to turn to the God who “comforts all [Zion’s] waste places, and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD” (Isaiah 51:3). May it cause us to eagerly await the day when “the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come into Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads...and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (v. 11).
It is with this in mind; I offer this prayer of hope written by Scotty Smith. It seems like a good way to close out 2020 and not just look to 2021. Instead, this prayer causes us to long for the day when all of creation will no longer be subject to what we experienced this past year. It is a prayer of hope for a world that groans.
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Romans 8:22-24
Heavenly Father, Paul’s description of our intense longing for Jesus’ return as the pain of childbirth is strangely encouraging. Along with creation, we’re pregnant with glory, and we’re gonna go “full term.”
We will be like Jesus, and everything in the cosmos will be made right, new, and beautiful. Even though there’s no epidural or anesthesia to eliminate the pain of life in this fallen world as fallen people, we have this sure, living, glorious hope.
One Day the entire earth will be filled with the knowledge of your glory. One Day the barren places will be forested with hand-clapping trees. Desolate hills and mountains will sing and shout with incomparable joy (Isaiah 55:12).
Father, one Day your tear-wiping hand will complete its work. Death, mourning, crying and pain will be gone forever (Revelation 21:4). Because of this grand hope, we choose not to tune out, numb out, or check out. We choose to show up—living as characters and carriers of your grace-story of redemption and restoration.
With Jesus sovereign over all things, your Spirit working in every place, and your peace ruling in our hearts, we enter this August Tuesday, groaning and hopeful. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ tender and triumphant name.
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