Summary: We can take comfort and renew our hope when we suffer in the knowledge that God understands and suffers with us
A MINISTER WAS CALLED TO THE BEDSIDE OF A DYING MAN. When he arrived at the house, the man’s wife said, “I’m sorry, but you’re too late. He lapsed into unconsciousness and I don’t think he will come around again.” The minister said, “Well, if you don’t mind, I would like to pray beside him.” As the family gathered around the bed, he prayed and to the astonishment of all, the dying man said quite clearly, “Amen.” Then he groaned three times and died.
Three groans! Let me use that scrap of pastoral experience as a mere device for launching into a consideration of the three groans found in Romans 8.
In verse 22 , the whole creation groaned
In verse 23, we ourselves groan within
In verse 26, the Spirit makes intercession with groanings that cannot be uttered.
1. The Groan of Creation
Look at verse 22 again: We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
Paul is simply saying that nature groans in the hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage of decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
In Genesis, chapter 3, sin brought about 4 curses: Satan, Adam and Eve, and the earth itself.
Someone has pointed out that all the sounds of nature are in the “minor key.”
❏ Listen to the sighing of the wind
❏ Listen to the roaring of the tide
❏ Even many birds are in the minor key
❏ Listen to the lonely wolf howl in the night air
All nature is singing, but it is a song of bondage. Yet, it sings in hope—looking forward to the day, Paul says, when it shall step into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
Is there any doubt as to nature’s groaning?
❏ tidal waves
❏ volcanic erruptions
Our Lord Jesus told us that these things would intensify as His Second Coming draws near. The groaning will become louder and louder.
Human nature is groaning as well. The media is shouting it to us—hatred, prejudice, war, murder, rape, abortion, terrorism and the like are on the rise.
If one has an ear to hear, one can listen to the groaning of the unsaved. Lost and without hope, fearful—don’t know where to turn in times of trouble.
Everything that lives is subject to disease—animals, birds, fish, flowers, trees. Everything living is tainted to some degree. That’s why some folks find it so hard to believe in the love of God. It isn’t easy to connect the diseases and warrings of animals with human sin. And yet we know that because of the Fall, this earth is under a curse from God.
Genesis 3:17: To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it, cursed is the ground because of you, through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.’”
Genesis 4:11: Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.
In this Romans passage, Paul sees the entire natural order, cursed because of man’s sin, groaning in birth pangs for the final deliverance which shall come when Christ is revealed. His vision in verses 19-22 is of the “new heavens and the new earth” promised by Isaiah in chapter 66.
2. The Groan of God’s Children
Look at verse 23: Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
When you stop to think about it, our whole life consists of a series of groans. Think about it.
❏ when we get up
❏ when we’re sick
❏ when that unexpected bill comes
❏ when we get a failing grade
❏ when our car breaks down
❏ when our daughter decides to get married
❏ when the sermon is long
❏ when the detist says, “You have a cavity.”
We groan spiritually because of the ravages that sin makes in our lives and in the lives of those we love.
We groan because we see gifted people who are wasting their lives.
We groan for that friend or relative that is unsaved and continues to resist the Lord.
We groan for the believer who is backslidden, whose fellowship with God is broken.
In John 11, it is recorded that Jesus, as He approached the tomb of His dear friend Lazarus, “groaned in His spirit” because of what sin had done to the family of Lazarus. He groaned even though He knew that He would soon raise Lazarus from the dead.