A Whole Lot of Groaning
There sure is a whole lot of groaning going on here on earth. And it’s getting louder as the days progress. We have the groans of the prisoners whose sins have bound them, and as sin’s servants they must obey (Psalm 102:20, Romans 6:16). Those separated from Christ are groaning beneath life's heavy burdens. They are without God, without hope, without promise of anything better than what their own efforts can produce (Ephesians 2:12). They are the groans of the wanderers, the rebellious, and those who are at their wits’ end [all their wisdom has come to nothing} (Psalm 107). People are oppressed and needy, sick in body, sick in mind, sick at heart, bound by fear, and on the brink of fainting because of all the injustices committed (Psalm 12:5, James 5:4). Wounds are deep and their cries, heart wrenching.
The whole of creation is groaning right along with them, torn between the frail and futile “condition of pain, and disorder, and groaning, and death”* that’s been in effect since the fall—and the earnest longing to enter into the glorious freedom of God’s children when they are finally revealed (Romans 8:20-22).
Their agonizing groans are simultaneously intermingled with those of the church who suffer the distress and affliction associated with living in this hostile world yet not being of it (John 17:14, 2 Corinthians 1:8), The constant conflict between the desires of our flesh and the desires of the Spirit, heightens our groans and stirs within us intense longing to be clothed upon with our heavenly dwelling (Galatians 5:17, 2 Corinthians 5:2). We have tasted and seen that the Lord is so good (Psalm 34:8). And as recipients of this foretaste of the blissful things to come, we ache for His fullness (Romans 8:23).
Earth’s pitiful groans have been noted. God heard Our Symphony of Sorrowful Songs* and joined in our cries. He took into consideration that we are flesh and blood and sent His God-Man Son to take part in the same (Hebrews 4:14). Jesus was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3), who, as the Author and Source of eternal salvation, offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears (Hebrews 5:7-10). He groaned within Himself and was disturbed in spirit over the hurting and conflicted condition of humanity (John 11:33,38). In all our afflictions, He was afflicted (Isaiah 63:9).
God then stepped up His efforts. He placed His Spirit in the hearts of those surrendered to Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). The Comforter enters into our groaning, meeting our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance . . . He intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God’s will (Romans 8:26-27).
His groans are not merely sympathetic in nature, but are charged, pregnant fellowshipping with God . . . for the Spirit searches all things [diligently], even [sounding and measuring] the [profound] depths of God [the divine counsels and things far beyond human understanding] (1 Corinthians 2:10). In nautical terms, sounding is a word used to describe the process of measuring the depth of water beneath a boat to check materials that make up the sea bed, or to locate schools of fish. In the same way, the Holy Spirit sounds the profound, bottomless things of God and makes them known to us. Since our weak and sorrowful groans and prayers are backed by heaven itself, how can we lose?
The hour of birth pangs is upon us (John 16:21, Matthew 24:8). Time is quickly passing, momentum is building. Our chorus of groans will soon reach a crescendo. Because God is partnering with His church in our labor pains, all things are working together for good (Romans 8:28). Our grief, anguish, and groans will one day be forgotten, the restoration of all things will finally be complete (Matthew 19:28-29). Weeping may endure for the night, but our joy will surely come in the morning (Psalm 30:5).
· “condition of pain, and disorder . . .” (Barnes’ Notes) · Symphony of Sorrowful Songs (Henryk Gorecki, 1976)
Photo by Adrian Swancar on Unsplash