I grudgingly come to the paper this time. Not desiring to spit out a word but knowing clarity comes with another click of the keyboard.
The heater next to me groans consistently…and I wonder if we are not too different.
Paul seems to think we groan along with everything else in creation. This groaning is not to be labeled as pessimistic, or whining but rather groaning. In fact, the Holy Spirit uses our groans. We groan right along with creation.
We have our hope and our final verdict: not guilty in Christ. So why groan? Imagine a man who has not seen his brother in 10 years. They are separated by years and physical contact. The blue eyes yearn to see his brother’s brown, and the shoulders of both want to feel their flesh and blood. Separated by a raging water, they wait for the ship. However, a ship is being built that will connect these two together.
Yet, they call everyday. They know everything the other is doing. The blue knows the brown eyes like to watch the sunrise, and the brown knows the blue eyes like to watch the city lights. They know each other’s vices, and faults. They know what the other enjoys and what the other despises. They stopped asking the question, “How are you?” 9 years ago because based on the inflections in their voices, the other can tell exactly how the day went.
They will see each other. The ship is being built and yet… they groan. They both cry out at night. They both call when they cannot sleep. They both wake, hoping today is the day the ship is built. They groan. Yet, they know they will be together.
Now forgive the various theological problems with the above narrative (really it bothers me more than it bothers you), but it was the first in my mind so I will stick with it.
I think it’s imperative we find proper room in our theology to allow for such groaning. We can not put this groaning in the same camp as whining, and we cannot chalk this groaning up to mere pessimism. There is real hurt and our groans are not without hope. Therefore, whining and pessimism are simply incorrect.
I need to make more space in my head and heart for this groaning. It’s good to groan and the Holy Spirit even turns these groans into prayers. We should groan… for all do have an estranged ‘brother’.
I do want to see the eyes of Christ. I do want to feel and touch the arms of my Saviour. I do want to tremble before my creator. We all do have a desire that is not fulfilled in this world. Our hearts do indeed long to be embraced by the shoulders of our Savior.
And although He is always with us, we are not fully home. This is where my human analogy falls flat on its face. For the Holy Spirit cannot be translated into anything human.
We have this gift. We have this comforter.
The fact that Jesus gives us a comforter is no small thing. This gifts pushes two things into my heart. One, Jesus knew we would suffer. This is evident and indeed promised in many places in the Bible. However, the second thing we glean from this gift is easy to miss, Jesus wanted to comfort those who have salvation.
What a statement. Jesus assures us that we have a hope in heaven with Him, but He knows that this Hope does not negate all pain and sorrow. In fact, sometimes this Hope actually causes pain and sorrow.
With this one gift Jesus gives us not only assurance of His love, but also permission to groan. Indeed, He gives us an interpreter for our groans. It seems the hands and heart of Christ are more beautiful than we can begin to fathom. Our Father not only gave us His son, but the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead also translates our groans to our Father in heaven.
Brothers and sisters, let us be a generation that groans. Deep in our chest there are reasons to let out a groan. There are no shortage of reasons to groan with the rest of creation. Let us set aside the whining, the empty optimism, and hopefully groan for full redemption.
Jesus invites us to groan.
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. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
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. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.