Groan, Groans, and Groaning
Life is full of pain, suffering and death. Each of us has our
share of heartaches and hurts. Sometimes we groan under the load of suffering. In my daily
ministry I see hundreds of poor people facing pain, poverty and suffering in Latin
The word for groaning is found only six times in the New Testament.
In Romans 8:22, 23, 26 the word stenazo and its variants refer to three different
things: creation groans (vv. 18-22), believers groan (vv. 23-25), and the Holy Spirit
groans (vv. 25-30).
The apostle Paul tells us that creation groans (Romans 8:18-22). He
is referring to the non-rational creation, animate and inanimate. Angels are
not included because they were not subjected to the bondage of corruption. Satan and his
demons are not included because they will not share in the freedom of glory of the
children of God. The children of God are distinguished from the creation in vv. 19-23. The
unbelievers are not included because they are not characterized by an earnest expectation
of hope in the coming of Christ. Rational creation is excluded in this passage. Paul tells
us the non-rational creation, animate and inanimate creation waits
eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God (v. 19). It groans and suffers
the pains of childbirth until now (v. 22).
Why does it groan like a mother dilating at childbirth? Verse 21
tells us it longs to be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of
the glory of the children of God. Creation, the cosmos, is looking beyond itself to
the glorious freedom of the children of God.
It longs to be liberated from the curse God placed upon it in the
garden when Adam sinned (Gen. 3:17-18). Cursed is the ground because of you.
Creation will one day be delivered by the Redeemer. When the Christians are fully
redeemed, resurrected in glory, the cosmos will likewise be fully redeemed.
Creation groans, but one day it will become a glorious creation.
Today it groans in pain and suffering, decay and vanity. The pain will end when the child
is delivered. This groaning creation looks forward to the day it will be set free. The day
is coming when the cosmos will be renewed (Isa. 11:6-9; 2 Pet. 3:13). The promise was
given in the garden (Gen. 3:15).
Creation will share in the glory that will be bestowed upon the
children of God. The entire creation, as it were, sets up a grand symphony of
Not only does the cosmos groan, but also the children of God are
described as groaning (vv. 23-25). We have already been adopted, indwelt by the Holy
Spirit, are the sons of God, have the witness of the Holy Spirit, heirs and
co-heirs with Christ, etc. It may seem odd that the believer groans when God has done so
much to save us. We groan because we have experienced the first fruits of the
Spirit which is a foretaste of the glory to come. We have already tasted the
blessings of heaven and the age to come so we long for the full manifestation of the
kingdom of God. We groan to be under the full control of the Holy Spirit with resurrected
bodies. The Holy Spirit anticipates that final salvation. He is the
pledge, the guarantee, the down payment that we who have the Spirit shall in the end be saved.
We who have Him indwelling anxiously await that glorious day with full
expectation. The final
delivery is guaranteed by His indwelling presence. When Jesus Christ returns we shall
enter into our full inheritance with Christ. We are saved by that blessed hope and
the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ (Romans 8:24;
We groan in suffering and pain now, but when Jesus appears we will
enjoy eternal glory with Him.
The apostle Paul tells us the Holy Spirit groans, too (vv. 25-30).
Jesus groaned when He saw the effect of sin and unbelief on people (John 11:33, 38; Mk.
7:34). Today our Paraclete, Comforter, or divine Helper feels the pain of our sin
and groans over us when we sin. He helps our weakness; for we do not know how to
pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for
words, and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He
intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (vv. 26-27).
The Holy Spirit prays for us in His groanings so that we will please
God. We do not know the will of God, but He does because He is God. He prays for us in His
groanings interceding so that we will do the will of God in spite of our suffering. He
reminds us that regardless of what we experience here temporarily it is nothing in
comparison to the glory that is to be revealed to us when Christ comes.
God pledges that we will rise from the dead. Our deep sorrow will be
turned to great rejoicing. The end will not be the survival of the immortal soul, but the
resurrection of the body, equipped for heaven and eternity.
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
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