I find myself groaning more than I used to. When I get out of bed in the morning, I make that old man sound. When I sit down after jogging, I moan. When I lift heavy objects, I grunt like a Monica Seles.
But it’s not just the aches and pains that make me groan. When problems arise at church, when my wife is angry with me, when my children frustrate me, I groan.
I groan when I’m tired. I groan when I’m sad. I groan because it hurts.
In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul tells me that I’m not the only one groaning. “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:22). The whole world – every man, woman and child; every living creature; all of nature – feels the aches and pains caused by sin.
As we hurt, Paul encourages us to take it to the Lord in prayer. Sometimes, though, I don’t know what to say to God. Sometimes I just hurt. I’m just sad. I don’t really understand what I’m feeling. Sometimes I don’t even know what I should be asking God.
When we are at our weakest and don’t even know what to pray, “the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26).
When I am hurting and don’t know why – when I don’t know what I want or what’s best – the Holy Spirit groans for me. I can just open up my arms to God and groan. I can say, “God this stinks. This hurts. I don’t know what to do.”
We can say that because he does know what to do. He knows what we are feeling. He knows what is best for us and will always do it. God understands groans.
That doesn’t mean, however, that my groans will magically disappear. Prayer is not a pill which immediately takes away all pain. God promises that he will deliver us from all our pains and problems eventually, but often we have to wait like a woman in labor.
Prayer is not a happy pill. For that matter, nor is the gospel. Simply hearing and believing God’s promises won’t suddenly take away all your pain. That’s what our world wants. Our world thinks it has the right to be happy all the time. That’s why so many people pop pills or run to the bottle or jump in bed to find relief from their groaning.
God doesn’t promise to take away our groaning here on earth. God’s promises don’t always take away the pain. Rather, they give us the strength to bear the pain. They give us the sure hope that like that woman in labor, our pain is only temporary.
We groan in eager expectation, knowing that our relief is coming, but we still groan.
In fact, I am certain I will groan more and more with each passing year. Here on earth, you and I will have moments of pain and sorrow which cannot be expressed in words. God knows, though. He understands.
So turn to him in prayer, even if all you can do is groan. He will hear you. He will come to you through the promises of his Word to give you the strength to stand despite the pain.
He will give you the sure hope of a home where you will never groan again.