Groaning (Part 1)

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 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. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

These verses precede one of the most quoted verses from the New Testament. Back to that later.

Recently I’ve been meditating on this passage, particularly focusing on the groaning references. In the past I’ve always focused on two elements of this teaching by Paul (hint to where these verses are found).

  1. Creation is groaning. So the challenges of our physical world-storms, fires, droughts, etc.-illustrate this.
  2. The next two verses that follow (familiar verses about prayer) mention wordless groans through which the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. Praying is groaning.

I’ve taken a third focus lately that has brought further peace and clarity to a believer’s identity. And the focus follows this thought pattern:

All of Creation is Groaning

>Humans are part of Creation

>Humans are Groaning

Strange as it may sound, I find freedom in that truth. Not necessarily comfort or satisfaction. But this different view of our status brings deeper understanding. I’ll put it in three points:

  1. We’re all born groaning
  2. Shared groaning births grace
  3. God chose to enter our groaning

Growing up in the church, I’ve heard “we’re all born sinners” all my life. I’ve never heard anyone say, “We’re all born groaners.” All of my being is groaning. My spirit groans. My mind groans. My body groans. I was born this way. And there’s nothing I can do about that.

Although that’s true, I can do at least two things according to these two verses. First, I can wait eagerly for the groaning to end. In other words, rather than sulk over my status I can look forward to what’s ahead in eternity. Second, I can foster hope. Yes, my groaning spirit and mind and body produce stuff I don’t like; but I have the option to choose to humble all of myself to the Holy Spirit who gives me hope by being with me in that groaning.

I was born groaning and continue. It explains much. But there’s more. Stay tuned for Part 2 & 3.

Photo by Felipe Palacio on Unsplash


Quotable Spurgeon

Maybe one of the most quoted preachers in history is Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892). His thirty years of ministry at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London resulted in sixty-three volumes of published sermons. 

I’ve never been drawn to read sermons. By assignment, I have made way through them. But recently I assigned myself to read this book:

And now I see why he is quoted so much. This selection of twelve sermons are helpful to anyone: the preacher wanting to hone his craft, the new believer wanting to learn about biblical characters, the small group leader wanting to gain insight, etc.

For a sample, here are my favorite ten quotes from these sermons:

“True religion never was designed to make our pleasures less but to give us new ones.”

“We always find that where Christ is, there is a Judas somewhere about.”

“Where Christ is not valued, gold becomes an idol. Where Christ is not prized, health becomes an idol. Where Christ is not loved, learning and fame become idols. Where Christ is not first and foremost, even personal beauty may become an idol. But when Christ becomes our all in all, because our eyes have seen his salvation, then the idols fall.”

“You have no occasion to advertise that you have genuine humility: let it discover itself as spice does, by its perfume: or as fire, by its burning.”

“If you believe for little success, you should have little success; but if you believe for great things, and expect great things, you shall certainly find your Master’s words fulfilling your desire.”

“There is no need for you to give information to your God, for he knows it already; you need not pick your words in prayer in order to make your case plain and perspicuous, for God can see it, and all you have to do is uncover your wounds, your bruises, and your putrefying sores.”

“If we lived more in the atmosphere of the cross, sin would lose its power, and every grace would flourish.”

“Man feels that the presence of goodness is a silent witness against his own sin, and therefore he longs to get rid of it.”

“When the world is so dark, we had need that every lamp should give some light, and that each lamp should burn as much oil as it will carry, that its light may be of the brightest possible kind.”

“Once the art of being still is fully learned, what strength and bliss is in it! If it were now decreed that at this moment you must lay down your life, could you smile?”