I was groaning a lot when I did my taxes recently. I dread doing taxes because the tax forms can be so frustrating. My family has a number of unique circumstances that intensify the frustration. I am pastor, which means I get a housing allowance. My wife operated a business. I have education expenses. Finally we are married and have kids. My 2021 IRS filing required working through 8 forms, some of which include non-filed worksheets that are basically additional forms. Portions of those forms often make very little sense! “Write the amount from 1040 line 11 on form 8812 line 5. Then use the Credit Limit Worksheet in the instructions to figure out line 6. Multiply by .0673. If line 6 is larger than five, multiply by .05. If line 8 is 0, then enter line 7 on Schedule 2 line 5.” And on and on it goes. Sometimes you’re three forms deep just trying to figure one line on one form. Let’s just say I was groaning a lot.
Are you groaning? Maybe it was your taxes. Maybe you are groaning for a different reason. Maybe you are feeling suffering. Paul has a response for that reality of suffering in verses 18-22. Paul’s response to groaning is, surprisingly, more groaning.
Paul affirms that suffering is very real and very hard. But he doesn’t stop there. In verses 18-22 talks about creation as groaning. Pain and suffering are a natural part of life. Natural disasters, sickness, death, humans mistreating other humans. None of it is good or easy, but it is the reality of the world we live in. We live in a broken and fallen world.
You might have noticed that Paul uses the word “groan” a number of times in verses 22-27. Creation groans. We groan. And finally the Spirit groans. This is a physical expression, a sighing when one is feeling deep concern or distress. Maybe you know the feeling. Maybe you have been groaning a lot lately.
Thankfully, Paul says, we have hope. We read about this hope in verses 23-27. We have hope in the Spirit of God, who is at work on our lives. When life is so rough that we don’t even know how to pray, the Spirit prays for us.
In fact Paul says the Spirit is groaning for us! Isn’t that astounding? God’s Spirit is at work in our lives, praying for us. And it is not just a perfunctory prayer. The Spirit is emotional, groaning for us! What hope we have!
The good news just keeps getting better, as there’s more to come, as we’ll see in the next post.
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