Romans 8:22-23 NLT
For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit in us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children, including the new bodies he promised us.
This scripture resonates deeply with my soul. They affirm what I feel so often as a Christian, validating the weights of sorrow, frustration and pain that living in this world induces in body, mind, soul and spirit. If you’ve ever witnessed someone in the throes of childbirth then you know, you’ve witnessed the deep, intense groans of pain that emanate from a woman’s mouth as a result of the tremendous physical pain she’s enduring. It is this child birthing metaphor that God uses to describe to us what it experientially feels like to be subjected against our will, to God’s curse on everything on earth. It’s not all in your head. It’s not you being ungrateful. This intense groaning is a real, genuine response to the pain, and suffering of living on this planet.
I groan in this aging body that wakes me up at night in pain. I groan as Proverbs says, under the rule of the corrupt and wicked. I groan at the terrible suffering I see in the world around me. I groan as I witness the pain, suffering and injustices inflicted on many I am ministering to.
In the last 6 years alone, I’ve had 10 people whom I’ve known, loved and ministered to over the years, suddenly die. I have a dear friend in Africa who recently had both of his sisters and their families burned out of their homes, fleeing for their lives, from Islamists. I have those I minister to, diagnosed with cancer. Others are dealing with difficult illnesses. Others terribly mistreated by their employer and slandered by co-workers, causing them genuine harm and loss. I know of others going through such difficult, gut wrenching trials and tribulations. All of them make me groan. How I wish I had the power to free all of them from the troubles, sorrows, pain and sufferings they’re presently enduring. How I wish I could bring justice to the many afflicted in our world, to create a just and righteous government that truly puts the best interest of the people first. So, when I say I groan, I really mean, I groan.
And yet, I also dare to hope. Why? Because one day it will all change. One day the agonizing, life long childbirth we’ve each been enduring will be over and done! We’ll finally be free of all the death, decay and destruction. We’ll finally be free of the pain and suffering. There will be no more curse, no more injustice, no more wicked, no more old, aching bodies wearing down and out. No more struggling to survive, to make ends meet. There’ll be no more fools to endure, or insults to put up with.
It’s this wonderful future, promised to us by God, that gives us hope, the courage to press on.
It’s also a great comfort to me that God himself groans for us in prayer, as He prays for us in our weakness, pain and distress, God himself endures all that makes us groan.
Dear friends, as each of us is walking through our own painful difficulties, we also groan for many of the same reasons. Remember the Apostle Paul’s divine perspective, for he himself also groaned–Yet, what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will give us later! The Apostle isn’t trying to minimize your suffering, or berate your groaning. He is simply trying to remind us that one day, God will compensate you beyond your wildest expectations for what you’re suffering now. You will have new unbreakable bodies, freedom forever from all pain and suffering. No more frustrations. No more troubles. A glorious new heaven and earth to live in. A universe with no sin, no injustice, no unrighteousness, ruled eternally by God himself. Surrounded forever by people you love, who are perfect in every way! There will never, ever be a sad day again. And all of it will last forever! Never lose sight of your future!
One of the most meaningful things sustaining me in my earthly groanings, is Jesus’ example, who cried out to the Father in his groanings. While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings with loud cries and tears to the one who could deliver him out of death. And he was heard because of his reverence for God. Hebrews 6:7. Do you grasp this friend? It was not just when Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane that he pleaded with loud, painful cries and tears. It was often during his entire time on earth. Life here was painful for him, just as it is for you.
This practice, following Jesus’s example, has brought me through all these years of groaning, pain and suffering. I have cried more tears, crying out to God, than you can possibly imagine. And God in his mercy and grace has heard me everytime!
We are not alone in our groans!
Helping you become a Strong Disciple,
Because of Jesus,
Pastor Mark Darling