As you might imagine, many hurting people have connected with me via Facebook over the past two months, sharing their stories of loss, grief, mental illness, and suicide – as well as painful divorces, estrangement from family members, financial stress, and physical illnesses. What a broken place earth is!
No wonder the Bible says (Romans 8:22-27) that all creation is “groaning.” And we ourselves – with our broken bodies, broken minds, and broken relationships – “GROAN as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” The passage goes on to say that’s why we hope – not for something we already have but for what is to come. Paul reminds us that the Spirit, too, groans for us – articulating in ways our words are too inadequate to express – the longings of our souls.
So today if you notice that the weather doesn’t cooperate, your car breaks down, gas prices go up, your sink won’t drain, your children don’t get along, your body is sagging in places too embarrassing to mention, the doctor tells you that there is nothing else he/she can do, you read a report about people starving, you see a photo of the wreckage in Oklahoma, the depression threatens to swallow you whole, the ache of grief stuns you... know that this is life on a scarred, damaged, messed up, and tumultuous planet. It groans... we groan… but take heart: the Spirit of God groans for us as He conveys to the Father our pain, our suffering, our hurt, our confusion, and our misery. Rather than be discouraged by all this groaning, let’s just acknowledge it – sometimes life sucks, friends – and then build our HOPE on what is to come, what has been promised to us by the author of HOPE.
And by the way, remember that every person you encounter today is groaning in some way; it may be obvious to you, but more likely, the groaning is happening on the inside. Deeply hidden groaning, but very real. So let’s really be the Body of Christ to each other – you hurt, so I hurt. Can we stop the incessant push to get more done long enough to listen, to see, to receive the groanings of another person? In this way, hope grows. Hope for what is to come. Hope to hang on another day. Hope to trust ourselves to the Spirit who doesn’t shame us for groaning, but values our groanings enough to bring them to God. I’m groaning today – not just because I desperately miss Matthew – but for your groanings too... and for all who carry it tucked away inside of them. I’m groaning… but I’m also waiting patiently in hope for all that has been promised.