Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Just a little over a year ago, as I was driving my dad home from the hospital, he suffered a massive heart attack in the car. His head fell forward and sideways as his arms stiffened in front of him. I yelled at him to see if he could still hear me.
I yelled again as I held his head in my hand to keep it upright enough for him to breathe.
There was no breath.
Then suddenly there was a deep exhale of air that came forth in the sound of a loud groan which I will never forget. It was a groan that revealed a groaning fulfilled.
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage.
2 Corinthians 5:1-6
I hear a lot of groaning these days. We groan about the experiences of the past. We groan about the present effects of those past experiences. We groan about politics. We groan about other people’s behavior. We groan about slow traffic. We tend to groan about everything that causes us emotional turmoil. It’s too bad that Christians groan so much over all the wrong things. When was the last time you groaned correctly?
I studied the uses of the word “groan” in the Bible, both Old Testament and New Testament. It was very interesting to not find a single reference to groaning in the context of carrying emotional burdens unless they are directly related to being poor, hungry, or spiritually oppressed by another person. And every one of those references is in the Old Testament prior to God giving us His indwelling presence through the Holy Spirit.
There is only one use of the word groaning in the New Testament that refers to complaining, and it’s a command not to groan about obeying and honoring the leaders of your church. All the other New Testament usages refer to waiting for and praying for the return of Jesus. We have permission, along with all of nature, to groan for the return of Jesus. One commentator put it this way…
“We are a bride who, at the very moment when she was fully attired for marriage, saw the bridegroom die. She still stands with her fresh crown and in her bridal dress, but her eyes are full of tears.”
Is it possible that there is only one groaning that will ever be satisfied – the groaning to be glorified with Jesus? I say YES! All other groaning may be nothing more than complaining, and that is not the ministry of the Holy Spirit in us.