Groaning (Advent Thoughts)

Birth

I didn’t really know much about labour and childbirth when I first went to visit my friend who’d just given birth. We were in the car park outside an NHS hospital, the sun was shining and the windows of the hospital were open. As I strolled towards the door, carrying flowers for the new Mum, I heard a cow mooing very loudly. I stopped, a little puzzled. There were no fields around, and the only other sound was the cars from the busy road.

 

The sound came again. A deep, powerful, almost comic sound, like when you squeeze an accordion and it runs out of air.

 

“I guess we’re outside the labour ward,” Jon said.
“No!” I replied, “No way is that a woman making that sound?”

 

We both stopped and listened again to adjudicate on the origin of the sound. Regrettably, there were no cows to be seen. From the context, it must have been a woman in labour.

 

But it was the most unhuman sound I had ever heard a human make. I couldn’t quite fathom the depth of pain that someone must be feeling to utter that noise. I walked a little more quickly to the hospital and tried to concentrate on the fluffy teddies and cute babies I was about to see.

 

*****

 

We don’t often think of Mary in labour when we consider the nativity, do we? I have never yet seen a child’s nativity play, even the ones with real donkeys and hay that has Mary saying, ‘Aaaargh! Make it stop!”

 

Groans preceded Christ’s coming. He was born in pain into a world of pain. And as we wait, groans precede His second coming.

 

*****

 

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. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. (Romans 8:22-26 NIV)

 

Creation Groans

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

 

This world is creaking. There is so much that is good and beautiful in this world that it is sometimes possible to tune it out. But I hear of women attacked in Afghanistan, children bombed in Gaza, and earthquakes and hurricanes that destroy all in their path, and I can no longer drown out that deep and hoarse sound. The whole creation – people, animals, earth, air – is groaning with the pain of imperfection. The world is not as it should be, nor as it will be. In the meantime, it groans.

 

We Groan

“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. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

 

Does being a Christian make you immune from the pain of the world? Does it act as an epidural somehow? The Bible says no – we groan all the more, waiting eagerly for it to be over when Christ returns. We groan inwardly. We yearn for heaven. We hope for what we do not yet have.

 

God Groans

 

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

 

And where is God in this painful world? God is the doctor, yes, and the medicine – but God is also groaning along with us. When we look around and we don’t know the words to pray because it is all just too much – God the Spirit is groaning with us, interceding for us.

 
And this is the hope of Christmas: the reminder of Immanuel, God with us. Immanuel, God the Father, who heard the groans of His people in exile; Immanuel, God the Son, born into our pain; Immanuel, God the Spirit groaning with us as we wait.

 

Over to you:

  • When are the times that you find yourself groaning? To what extent does it help to know that God is groaning too?

 

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I’m linking with Joy in this Journey, WIP Weds, Imperfect Prose. If you have written a post in the last week on Advent or Christmas, link up below by following these instructions:

1. Click on the ‘Add your link’ button and put in your details to link your post (only one post per week, per person please).
2. Put a link to my blog at the end of your post, so others can find the link-up too.
3. This is REALLY important (and kinda the point of the whole thing): visit the person who’s linked up before you and encourage them in the comments. You are also free to click on anyone else’s who might interest you!
 
 



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25 Responses to Groaning (Advent Thoughts)

  1. kelli 13th December, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    Love your words: “born into our pain.”
    A new way of thinking of a very old story.
    The one written on our hearts.
    Thanks, Tanya!

    • Tanya 13th December, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

      Thanks Kelli so much for visiting – I’m glad it resonated with you!

  2. Betty Draper 13th December, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

    Tanya…it is humbling to know our Lord “groans” for us His people. One has to love deeply to groan. I enjoy this post so much, caused me to ponder somes serious thoughts that I am praying will turn into actions.

    Thanks for visiting my site. So glad to meet one who has a passion for missions. If you get time go back to my site and view the clip in the post before Christmas in the Jungle. It’s title is, “Santa is not in the Moi Village, it will encouraged your heart also and let you see how God is working all over the world. Thanks again for the sweet comments. Blessings.

    • Tanya 13th December, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

      “one has to love deeply to groan” – YES.
      Thank you so much for encouraging me in the comments – I shall hop over back to yours and watch the clip!

  3. Joyce 13th December, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

    Beautiful, moving blogpost, Tanya! So many friends struggling and groaning in these Advent days, longing for deliverance from the agonies of living. Your wise caring words here help us glimpse the way the Holy Spirit can bring us through those “Aaaargh! Make it stop!” moments, not by handing over an epidural, but because in those moments, Jesus is right there holding our hand! God bless! XXX

    • Tanya 13th December, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

      Oh yay! So glad you liked this and that it spoke to you. This post was quite special to me, having that epiphany of God groaning alongside us. Thank you for your encouragement!

  4. Nancy @ Pilgrim Wanderings 12th December, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    Immanuel seems to be the theme for the day. 🙂 Great analogies! I know I’ve definitely been through some “groaning” times this year, and am so grateful that He was – and still is – here with me through it all

    • Tanya 13th December, 2012 at 11:18 am #

      I love that we were so on the same page for this! Thanks for linking up!

  5. Melissa 12th December, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    What a beautiful post about the tension of Advent! Thank you for the reminder that God groans with us!

    • Tanya 13th December, 2012 at 11:17 am #

      Thanks, Melissa! I really enjoyed your post too!

  6. Jillie 12th December, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    Tanya…Just yesterday, I was driven to my knees for a dear friend’s son. Actually, she’s more than a friend. She was a mother to me when my own Mom died at 44 years of age, and even before that when my own Mom was so consumed by her own problems that she didn’t have anything to give to me as her daughter. Dear Mary’s youngest son has been in a wheelchair for 22 years! The result of a horrific car crash when he was younger. He lies in our London hospital here in Ontario, with infections raging in his body, the result of pressure sores. He’s in a very bad way. He’s also scheduled for heart surgery come January.
    Mary has had many sorrows of late, and, though she be a strong and feisty little lady, I don’t know if her own heart can withstand this. I cried and I groaned inwardly in my spirit for her in prayer. I fear that if the worst should happen, she would just fall apart. I know she would never be the same.
    I thank you for the timely reminder that God is groaning too, for Mary and for Gille. It is a great comfort to know that He groans for this fallen world of broken people. Please pray for Gille if the Lord brings him to your thoughts?

    • Tanya 13th December, 2012 at 11:17 am #

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. I have lots of thoughts in response… Firstly – wow – you’ve really been through it, one way and another, haven’t you? Every time I hear more about your life I marvel at how you’ve emerged from it all.
      Second – I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. I can totally relate to that physical churning up caused by compassion and despair and helplessness at being unable to do anything. You describe it so well, and it reminded me of times when I have been pleading at the feet of Jesus for someone else. It is a horrible feeling, but at the same time I think it is beautiful the way you reflect the love of God in your compassion for your friend.

      Thirdly – am praying now – for Mary and Gille, and adding my groans to the divine ones. Much love x

      • Jillie 16th December, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

        Dear Tanya
        It is now Sunday afternoon here in my little corner of our vast country of Canada. I have just received a phone call to inform me that our beloved Gille passed away last evening. He was in horrible pain and suffering, and his heart just couldn’t take it. The Lord knows what is best and chose to take Gille.
        I am grateful, so grateful for your prayers. Now I ask for your prayers for Sharon (Gille’s wife), Mary, and Gille’s siblings as they begin the mourning process. Thank you so much Tanya for your kindness.

        • Tanya 17th December, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

          Oh – praying now. For God to be present in their sorrow and to uphold them and show His love.

  7. Mia 12th December, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    Hi dear Tanya
    I am sorry but it seems as if my first link up didn’t work, that is why my face is smiling at you twice. I don’t know how to delete the first one. Please do me the honors!!
    Oh, yes, dear Friend, the whole creation is groaning, but I am so grateful for the Holy Spirit interceding for us, for with the Fm/ME we need His help because lof the Fibrofog.
    Thank you for a very thoughtful post.
    Hugs XX
    Mia

    • Tanya 13th December, 2012 at 11:12 am #

      Thanks! I’ve tried to delete it, but not sure if it worked. Oh well…!
      Sending you a hug in your fibrofog! Xx

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