February 14. Romans 8:23-26. Suffering Part 4: Groaning.

Romans 8:23-26. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Most of us aren’t very good at groaning. Whining, yes. Groaning, no. Of course I mean spiritual groaning. I find myself groaning a lot physically (sitting, standing, lying down, getting up, you get the idea). But spiritual groaning is a different matter.

Creation groans. We groan. The Spirit groans.

We groan in solidarity with creation. We are part of nature. We groan only because the natural part of us is yet unredeemed – we … groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for … the redemption of our bodies. Our Spirit is heaven ready, glorified, a new creation. Our bodies however, are fleshly, full of sin, and corrupt. The reason we still sin today is because we are still stuck in these bodies.
2 Corinthians 5:2,5. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling … He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

The Spirit groans in solidarity with us. He intercedes for us by groaning. The Spirit of Christ has experienced the same groaning in his own life. Christ in you groans with words that are inexpressible. Words you will never hear or understand. The longings of Christ for your glory are in you and are being expressed to God by the Spirit.

Yes, the Spirit groans because we groan, but also we groan because Christ groaned. It’s not just that our longings have become his longings. First, his longings have become our longings. We groan because we have been given the life of Christ, and with that life comes his desires, sorrows, and thirsts. We want what he wants – justice, love, the end of suffering and pain. We long for everything to be made right, just like he does.

This is why it is so important that we learn to groan. To groan is to hope in Christ. This is not the groaning of wretchedness like in Romans 7. It’s the Spirit filled groaning of Romans 8. This is the groaning of our unmet longing. The pain that we feel because we know there is more for us out there, but we just can’t reach it yet. It’s the groaning of real hope.

There’s no better day to groan over unmet longings than Valentine’s Day. Just asking Charlie Brown.

What have you seen lately that makes you groan? Natural disasters? Another friend’s terrible diagnosis? Divorce? The kids going nuts? Your addiction? War? Conflict with friends? Political turmoil? Work place drama? What makes you say “Oh Lord Jesus how long?”

Do you groan for the coming of Christ? Do you groan for Christ-likeness?

Or do you groan for a change in your earthly situation?

Do you groan for death – simple freedom from the pain in your body or mind?

Do you groan for sin to be eradicated from your life apart from an experience of knowing Christ?

Or maybe you reject groaning as weakness. You numb or suppress your desires. You stoically face trials and just keep plugging away one day at a time.

“To live is Christ” means learning to groan. Like the Spirit. Like Christ. Like a person who knows they are missing something, that all’s not right with the world… But it will be someday. It means groaning for Christ himself. Not for mere change, or the absence of pain and suffering, or even the absence of sin. Those things only come when Christ comes. So long for him. For his Second Coming. For a deeper experience of his First Coming.

If you’re thinking “I don’t know how to groan,” take heart. The Spirit is doing it for you. It is happening. That’s what Christ in you means. Ask God to open your heart to the groanings of the Spirit in you. Ask him to refocus your longings toward Christ.

Bonus video: Snoopy!

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