“And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Romans 8:23
“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling… While we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. Whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-2,4-9
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14
The dichotomy between present purpose and future promise makes for a divine tension in the everyday. Paul struggled with physical infirmities and external pressures, though all he willingly received from Christ so His resurrection power and strength would be perfected and magnified. And yet, he longed for the gain of being present with Christ in heaven. In the meantime of the now and not yet, he pressed on in labor that would make an eternal difference. (2 Corinthians 6:4-10; 12:7-20; Philippians 1:21-23; 3:10-11)
We, too, balance daily challenges with heavenly call. Our bodies run well until they don’t, we enjoy health yet are decaying. Plans made in earnest meet disruption, and desired outcomes remain distant. But God calls us to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in His work while He gives us day, and it is the hope of glory that compels us to do all we can to prepare ourselves and others for its full redemption. (John 9:4; 1 Corinthians 15:58; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Colossians 1:27)
When I groan, is it out of personal frustration with circumstances or infirmities, or displeasure in some inconvenience or difficulty? If I turned my focus from self to the triumphant Lord, an inner longing for Him would begin to dissolve present complaint. If I spent more effort thanking God for the firstfruits of His Spirit, and employing His gifts for the benefit of others, my groans could turn to song. If, rather than plodding along in drudgery I set courageously to the task of pleasing Him by faith, my sights would turn from temporal to eternal, and glisten with hope.
What will it be? Is my heart all in for the greatness of knowing Jesus and making Him known as long as He has given me breath? How will I use my groaning to fuel grace, and gratitude, and gifts of service?
Lord, may my only groaning be with sure hope, in expending effort for Your gospel, Your people, and Your glory.