The Glory of Groaning
By Philip+ Jones
Do you groan, do you sigh, do you hope for different life, a different reality. Given the everyday news or just reflecting on our own life at times, I bet there is some groaning going on. Be encouraged, that is the basis of our hope.
Reading the Bible everyday reminds us of how God’s revelation speaks into reality of our everyday life. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, there is a shift in the world, an expectation of full glory. But, we are not here in its fullness yet. We live in the in between times of His resurrection and His coming back. This in between time can be characterized as ambiguity. Our bodies decay yet one day they will the fully restored. Our interior transformation is taking place yet there is still the power of temptation, evil and Sin.
The Bible describes this as”groaning." In Romans 8. 22 – 30 we find 4 foundations of hope. The word"groaning" is used three times. Creation groans, we groan and the Holy Spirit groans inside of us. Yet, God is working all things out ( 28-30).The Greek word for groan is stenazo which means constricted, compressed, pressure being exerted forward like the pressure of childbirth. That's it! Childbirth. The pains of labor. Not yet fully born but coming.
Creation groans. Verse 22–the original sin of Adam and Eve affected and infected all material creation. Disease, plagues, floods, tornadoes et cetera. Creation itself manifest a groaning toward something that will be completed and restored. Creation itself is in labor pains.
We groan. Look around. Look inside your heart. Wars, poverty, abuse, immorality, injustice, racism, the list could go on and on. Yet, our groaning is a sign of hope because we know as followers of Christ that there we are leaning toward a future of eternity that begins the moment we receive and surrender to Christ. Because we have the first fruits of the Holy Spirit at our conversion, we groan inwardly as we wait for the fullness of our adoption as sons. This world matters and we help bring heaven to earth.
The 3rd foundation of hope is the reality that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us in groanings too deep for words. Verse 26. As God searches our hearts and finds our brokenness the Holy Spirit intercedes for us for the will of God in us. What love! What hope! When we find ourselves groaning or sighing or confused, etc. that is the work of God in us.
The 4th foundation of hope is the famous verse 28 –" and we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." In other words, as our minds are made clear about our groaning and the ambiguity of living in these in between times, we can fine confidence, assurance and hope in the broad sweep of the plan of God. Note in this passage it is not saying all things that happened are good, but, that if we love and trust God we can have hope that he is working all things out. We don't always see it at the time. Think of Joseph in Genesis who did not know all things will be worked out when he was thrown it into a pit or sold into slavery or falsely accused or spent years in prison. Only on looking back could he see how things were working out. As Soren Kierkegaard says," Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward.”
So, pray. Pray to understand the groanings, the intercession of the Holy Spirit in us and to join in the suffering of the world with Jesus as we join in HIs glory. Pray for transformation, for renewal, for His kingdom come.