Did you know that “groaning” is a great grace from God, and that it is to be the mark of the Christian on the way into glory? The creation groans; the Christian groans; the Holy Spirit groans. The Scriptures make it clear that groaning—not whining—identifies those who are awaiting the glories of the life to come. Between justification (the instant you were saved) and glorification (the time you enter into your eternal rest) groaning is to be the default language of every Christian. Is it yours?
For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. (Romans 8:22)
The apostle Paul tells us that all of creation groans through deterioration, decay, and death, awaiting the day when Jesus will make all things new. Under the divine decree of Almighty God, creation suffers—not because of anything it did, but because of what Adam did through original sin and what we do through our continual sin.
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. (Romans 8:23)
Next Paul confirms that not only is creation groaning, but believers are groaning as we wait for the return of our Lord. Sinners by both nature and habit, we groan because of the corruption and futility that exists in us and the world around us. We mourn because we do not do the good we want to do, but the evil we do not want in our lives is what we keep on doing (Romans 7:19). The difference between what we currently are (great sinners) and what we one day will be (sinless sons) causes us to groan even more.
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. (Romans 8:26)
Finally, Paul assures us that along with creation and the Christian, God’s Holy Spirit roans also, interceding for us with “groanings too deep for words.” The Spirit of Christ testifies to the fact that something is terribly wrong with us and with the world around us, causing us to groan and long for the day when we will live with Jesus in the new heavens and the new earth.
The groaning the Scriptures speak about is a deep, inward, agonizing ache of the heart in response to the brokenness of this fallen world. It is not the whining, grumbling, and complaining we frequently engage in when our plans are thwarted, our agenda is interrupted, and our preferences are put on hold. Broken people in a broken world are to be groaning for the return of our Lord, when He will make all things new.
If we are not groaning, we have grown too comfortable with the things of this life—and this, beloved, is the condition of far too many in the American evangelical church today. When we find fulfillment in things smaller than God we don’t groan! Yet God in His grace wants to break the power our possessions have over us, and this will only happen as we look more to our Savior than to our stuff to meet our deepest needs and longings of the heart.
The life of the Christian is to follow the path of groaning to glory, which focuses our hope beyond a life defined by the horizontal to a life directed by the vertical. To be sure, the Kingdom of God has come, but it is not yet fully what it will be; therefore we groan! And the only people who are groaning for the glory of God are those who have surrendered their will to His will . . . their goals to His goals . . . their desires to His desires. They are living for the Kingdom of the Savior rather than the kingdom of the self.
What we need to remember is that “He who began a good work in us” is not finished with us yet (Philippians 1:6). And that should make us groan with anticipation of what we shall one day be—like Him!
In a sermon preached on September 28, 1885, Charles Spurgeon said: “We cannot help feeling that we need somewhat more than this visible world can offer us. Many of us find our greatest joy in the cultivation of that feeling, for it is to us the token of our spiritual nature and the prophecy of immortality. To us, this life is mainly worth living because it promises to be the introduction to a better life.”
Godly groaning conforms our concerns and cares to the size of God’s concerns and cares, and this is the only place for the Christian to live.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!