Ever wonder when the groaning will stop?
I don’t just mean the audible groans from physical pain. Or the groans that emerge from viewing the carnage of tragedies such as the Boston Marathon bombing. Not even the inward groan that forces its way out in the shape of a heart-bending sigh as we dwell on our health, or finances, or relationships that have gone from being “the bomb” to having bombed.
I’m talking about the groans that our spirits detonate within us as we attempt to draw closer to the God we long to see face to face, yet who lives and thrives in us, Spirit to spirit.
It’s a long, drawn-out groan that begins in the minuscule lungs of newborn babes and ceases when we draw our very last breath.
Reading Romans 8 last night, I saw with new eyes that we’re never really groaning alone. God is in the midst of our travail, literally and figuratively.
“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. … We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”
I think about how God set up in nature a perfect rhythm. With autumn and winter comes a season of death and decay; with spring and summer we welcome a season of renewal and rebirth. The groaning in nature gives way to something fresh, a new beginning. Yet, all of that will cede to a more perfect union of God, man, and nature one day.
God assures us that a similar process awaits us spiritually. We shall be changed, and the groaning will indeed end. What a glorious day!
Whenever I think about life beyond this world, my groaning becomes more intense. I long to see the God of heaven, in heaven, and to worship there. I long to meet Jesus, not the cardboard image of Him, but the real Jesus.
I daydream about seeing again those loved ones who have gone ahead of me.
Imagine the colors we’ll experience there! They’ll make the rainbow look like a toddler’s fumbling artwork.
The animals, plants, and life processes will literally blow our minds.
Finite will give way to infinite. Limits will move over to give room to limitless.
What a God we serve! And as Romans 8:26 points out, He sends His Spirit to intercede for us with “groans that cannot be uttered” when we don’t know how to pray ourselves through the leaden toll of life’s struggles.
In the mean time, the groaning continues. And I have to make peace with it and embrace that often bittersweet struggle. I’m not there yet, but I will be! I begin to understand the apostle Paul’s dilemma: feeling torn between life down here and life up there.
I draw comfort from the heroes of the faith recorded in Hebrews 11:
“They were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”