Grieving has a beginning, middle and an end; groaning on the other hand is a different story. Groaning will not end until the sons of God have been revealed. People experience grief over specific events in life. Groaning is so comprehensive that it involves every miniscule aspect of creation from the tiniest blade of grass to the incomparable soul of man. I know that I will push through my grief, but my heart will never stop groaning and I will not be alone. Romans 8:22-23 says, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 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.”
Groaning is a gift from God that helps us find peace and community from our common plight of being distanced from Him. God’s word tells me that all of creation groans. I understand how the creation groans when I look at my withered hydrangea bush. It was planted too late in the heat of summer to be given much of a chance. If it had words to express its groans, I’m sure they would be about the fact that it has a beautiful flower that wants to bloom but cannot because Texas summers are just too grueling. But as I was eating a mango this morning, I wondered. What does a mango have to groan about? This particular mango was cut at the perfect ripeness yielding the sweetest of tastes and texture. I thought this mango must be immune from groaning. Then I remembered my friend telling about her island vacation when she learned that she was allergic to mangos after her lips puffed up like a blowfish. That’s when I realized even the mango had something to groan about. It wants to give its delicious refreshment to everyone who will take a bite, but not all can indulge.
The sense of groaning brought forth in Romans 8 presents a realistic explanation of what we all feel about being in this world. There are lots of good, sweet and touching days. But there is not one day that is perfect. There is never a full day when any one of us remains in constant touch with our Creator and has perfect understanding of what our life and this world is all about. For that we groan.
Groaning can seem such a horrid word, one we don’t want to admit we feel or experience occasionally, and definitely not all the time. A hopeless, pessimistic existence is not what is described in this passage. The passage speaks of groaning in the context of childbirth and firstfruits of the Spirit. The groaning is an expression of what is not quite right but what is hoped for. The groaning gives articulation to what is missing. What we groan for is our adoption to sonship and the redemption of our bodies. This spiritual groaning is best compared to the groaning of a mom in childbirth rather than a person in agony after an injury.
Groaning is for a lifetime, but not forever. Jesus made certain of that. But in between now and then, we groan. When we groan, we are never alone. The whole creation groans with us.