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     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. Rom. 8:22-24

Dear heavenly Father, as easy as it would be to tune out, numb out, and check out, the gospel compels us to keep our hearts present in the struggles and heartaches of the world--and those within miles of our homes. As I pray this morning, there are over 27 million of your image bearers owned as slaves by other image bearers; 140+ million children who begin and end their days as orphans; over 50% of the world's population living on the equivalent of 2 American dollars a day. And a short driving distant from my home, people are without heat and enough good food, women sell their bodies and meth is sold like candy.

Paul's words about the intense painful groaning of childbirth seem appropriate; and there's no epidural, there's no anesthesia, there's nothing to diminish the raw pain of what's going on in many nations of the world's poor, and even in our own nation. How long, Oh Lord, how long?

Our only hope is that you, our God, do not lie. Though to some degree it mocks my sensibilities, when I stare at the overwhelming needs that exist, I abandon myself to your promise that one Day the whole earth will be covered with the knowledge of the glory of God; one Day the barren places will have trees again and those trees will clap their hands; one Day desolate hills will seem like dancing mountains.

One Day you will wipe away every tear from the eyes of your people, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will have passed away for your world in waiting (Rev. 21:4). How long, O Lord? How long until that increasingly longed-for Day? Oh that it could be today.

But because of this hope, we will not tune out, numb out, or check out. We will seek to show up and be poured out like a drink offering of mercy and grace. Lead us, King Jesus. Lead us into your work of redemption and restoration. What will it mean to love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly with you in the broken places of your world and our neighborhoods?

We praise you that you do not despise our confusion, our despair, or even our railings against heaven and the mysteries of hard providence; but you give us all the grace we need to follow you into the heart-wrenching brokenness and chaos. So very Amen we pray in Jesus' tender and trustworthy name.

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Scotty Smith

Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. You can follow him on Twitter.

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