“We know that the whole creation has been groaning…”
Paul penned those words thousands of years ago, it is no less true today. Can you feel it? “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves…”
Turn on the TV, read on the internet, look around your life/the world in which you live and it is unmistakable…
Fires rage, earthquakes consume, sinkholes devour, hurricanes and tornadoes destroy, relationships are decimated, diseases ravage our bodies and spirits, wars rage on, babies and children are dying (when even one is too much to bear), (unspeakable) atrocities abound… all of creation is groaning…
Gut wrenching, mind boggling, heart breaking… it’s enough to tear you apart.
(A word I hadn’t contemplated until a band made it popular.)
REND קָרַע (kaw-rah’) [cut open, split apart, surely tear, tear apart, torn away]
The Old Testament bears example of grief intense enough to REND a garment, the tearing of clothes in grief. When experiencing the world giving way, facing the whole of creation groaning, it isn’t just garments that tear, we can be torn apart. Jesus faced that you know? One night, in the garden of Gethsemane he said to the disciples, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.”
What do you do when you are torn apart? (‘Cause the little I do know of torn garments is they don’t go back together the same.) What are we to do when WE are torn? Clothes may tear from a worn spot on the inside, from outside forces yanking pieces apart, or from something piercing the material. And we are too! Life gives us reason to REND our garments and REND our hearts.
12 “Yet even now,” declares the LORD,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster. Joel 2:12-13
When the world gives way around us… when we face the whole of creation groaning… it is in those moments we are meant for more than despair, meant for more than a fight, meant for more than shaking our heads… we are meant to REND!
Not a rending that tears our clothes, destroys our bodies, ravages our minds or destroys our spirits…
A rend that tears us open and enlarges our hearts to God. Because sometimes the only way to be whole is to be broken. Sometimes the only way to truly mend is to choose to rend. We can’t accept the beauty of the grace of God if we are closed, so we need to REND.
Paul says that the whole of creation (and we too) has been groaning, “as in the pains of childbirth.” And the pains of childbirth have a purpose. The pain is not meant for the death of a woman but the birth of a mother, the new life of a baby. The rending of this life is not meant for our destruction unto death but a REND which, in bringing us to our end, tears us away from darkness and destruction, opens us to the light of Christ, the redemption of grace and light of new life.
Oh God… the world we live in seems to be giving way (all around us and inside as well), all creation is groaning and so do we! It seems too much to bear… it seems it will tear us alive… God in these moments we choose, instead, to REND to you! Torn apart with a purpose, we lay open before you. We tear down the barriers of self-sufficiency, of selfishness, of self-reliance, of self-righteousness, of self-imposed punishment and we open our hearts to you. Jesus you were willing to REND for us, to give YOUR life for us so we could be whole in you alone! As we face the brokenness in our world and in ourselves let us not be torn by despair but in the brokenness let us cleave to you.