These Between Times
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ… Titus 2:11-13
When the Session decided Sunday night to call our congregation to a day of prayer and fasting (more on that in Pastor Jason’s video later today), I volunteered to alter my scheduled devotional to spotlight an example of prayer and fasting in the Bible. I thought about fasting and prayer as exemplified in the Old Testament by Daniel, Nehemiah, Ezra, Esther and Mordechai. I considered the occasions we read of Jesus fasting and praying.
And still, I could not move away from this passage in Titus. Here’s why: Jesus said that when He is taken away, His disciples will fast (Matthew 9:15). When Jesus walked with his disciples, there was no cause for mourning, no reason to fast. That is why I could not escape Titus 2:11-13. We fast now because we know the grace of God and we long for His return. We have tasted the goodness of God, and we hunger for that heavenly banquet table.
Two words in these few verses from Paul to Titus stand as signposts for us. Those two words are appeared (v11) and appearing (v13). We look back to the grace God has given to us in the past, most of all to God’s saving work in drawing us to Himself. And we look forward to Jesus’ coming in glory. Between those two signposts, the grace that saved us continues to train us and direct us in a godly life.
It is in these “between times” when all creation groans. We groan because we have His Spirit as a deposit and guarantee (Rom 8:23; 2 Cor 1:22; 2 Cor 5:5). We groan because hope deferred makes the heart sick (Prov 13:12).
We are in a season now where a spotlight is put on our loss – all the things we cannot do or we cannot enjoy. But as Christians, we do not simply mourn the loss. We savor what we already have in Christ and we ache for what is coming. In this way, our fasting and prayer helps express our grief, confess our sin, and plead His favor.