“Meanwhile we groan....” (2 Corinthians chapters 4 and 5) Some of us do at times. And then feel guilty about it.
What is a groan? “A low, mournful sound uttered in pain or grief; a guttural, almost inarticulate sound; a deep sighing due to a sudden or prolonged overburdening, as with a great weight or pressure,” defines the dictionary. That describes how we sometimes feel in our mortal bodies, these temporary buildings or tents, as our limitations and weaknesses increase, when our burdens grow heavy, and when our age weighs on us.
Some of the things that the Scripture lists which cause our groans are:
afflicted in every way (hedged in, pressed on every side)
perplexed (troubled and oppressed)
unable to find a way out
persecuted (hard driven, pursued)
struck down (to the ground)
death (actively) working in us
earthly tent being torn down, destroyed, dissolved
our outer man (progressively) decaying and wasting away
I wonder with how many of those situations we can identify? Especially when we find ourselves in prolonged, chronic weakened and painful situations.
There is a time to bear our suffering silently, enduring and persevering through the trials. And there are times when to “groan” and express our feelings helps to release our inward suffering. That is not the same as complaining. Doesn’t the Holy Spirit Himself groan with too-deep-for-words sounds as He intercedes for us? So He hears and understands our groans. The Spirit carries our often ill-formed and misdirected, and self-focused prayers directly to the Father through Jesus. But before they reach God, the Spirit shapes up our prayers and groans to be acceptable to the Father as promised in Romans 8:26-28.
Christ in Gethsemane must have groaned with the agony of anticipation of the trials and intense pain that was ahead of Him. He had a body of flesh like ours. His sweat was like drops of blood. He knew how physically helpless He would be when nailed to the cross unable to move and with the most excruciating suffering.
But the bright side of groaning is that we “don’t lose heart” -- “become discouraged, utterly spiritless, exhausted, and wearied out, despondent with fear, faint with weariness...” (Eph. 3:13; Gal. 6:9; 2 Cor. 4:16). Whatever the trials or afflictions, we are not:
cramped or crushed
not driven to despair
not deserted to stand alone
never struck out and destroyed
the life of Jesus is manifest through us
our inner self is being (progressively) renewed day after day
we have from God a building, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens
If we find ourselves in a groaning situation, let's take courage and continually draw on God's strength until we see our Lord face to face. There is never a day or a night when we don’t need to lean hard on Him, even after a lifetime of walking close to God. Let's press even closer in afflicted times...and “groan” without feeling guilty.