The Groaning of God’s People

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.

Romans 8:23

In yesterday’s reflection, we noted the “groaning” of creation as it experiences the wreckage that comes from sin. In Romans 8:23, we join creation in groaning. Even though, through the Holy Spirit, we have a foretaste of the future when God will renew all things, we still live as broken people in a broken world. Thus we groan and sigh as we suffer the sorry results of sin in our own lives.

Yet, like creation, we are not mired in the quicksand of self-pity. Even though we groan, we also “wait with eager hope” because we will participate in the renewal of all things. In that day, not just our souls, but even our bodies will be redeemed.

This passage in Romans acknowledges the reality of human suffering. It recognizes without criticism that we will groan in our pain. Christians are never asked to deny the suffering of our world or to pretend our lives are perfect. Yet, even as we have divine permission to groan, we do so with hope. Yes, it’s hard to wait for the renewal of all things, including ourselves. But confidence in God’s glorious future sustains us. Thus, Christians can be realistic about the genuine suffering of people and the flawed character of creation. Yet our realism doesn’t become cynicism or dejection, because we know that God is saving, not just souls, but whole people, and even the whole creation. For now, we groan; we hope; we wait; and we serve God by being an agent of his renewal in every aspect of our lives.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How have you experienced the brokenness of creation in your own life? When do you groan? What helps you to have hope for the future? How are you bringing God’s salvation into this world, even now?

PRAYER: Lord, there are times when we join the psalmist in praying, “I am exhausted and completely crushed. My groans come from an anguished heart.” We can even echo the words of Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help?” Theologically, we can understand why there is suffering in the world. Yet when we are hurting, sometimes we have nothing left but to groan before you.

Thank you, dear Lord, that we don’t have to pretend when we come into your presence. You invite us to be ourselves, to be authentic, and to pour out our hearts to you. We can even groan, knowing that you hear our anguish.

Help us, dear Lord, to have hope in your future for us, even when our hearts are overwhelmed with sorrow. By your Spirit, help us to taste the future and to have solid confidence in you. Amen.