In Transit: The Grace of Groaning

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“As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him.” (Gen 15:12)

“The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.” (Ex 20:21) 

In the Christian experience, we will all inevitably come to a time in which we realize that something is off.  This experience will differ from believer to believer; because of factors such as personality, gifts, and geographical setting.

In some cases it will appear to originate externally, or in the things that go on around us. Like a splash in time, which ripples out and effects those who are around. Whether it be bankruptcy, the loss of a job, bereavement, divorce, breakup, a falling out between friends. Someone sinned against you, or you sinned against them. These are all examples of things that happen externally

For many (if not all), it is internal. When you’re on the end of your rope. It could have originated from an externality, causing you to stop and think about it, and examine yourself, and your relationship with the LORD. However, sometimes it isn’t that simple. You feel that something is off, and you experience some sort of inner turmoil, but you just can’t put your finger on it.

You examine yourself rigorously, because you understand Scripture commands you to do so, in Christ, so that you will know where to ask Him for help, and guidance. However your prayers don’t seem to “break the ceiling”. Your heart is broken. Formerly you played the part of the victim. You pointed your finger at someone else. However, you know that the kind of warfare isn’t simply flesh and blood. You also know that although you are in Christ, that you possess a sinful nature. You know that when the Spirit cleansed you with the Redemption that Christ purchased on your behalf, He weakened sin’s dominion over you, so that you are no longer ruled in it. You also recognize that there is a remnant of sin that remains in you, which still leaves you capable of committing sins.

At that point it must be realized that our lives are transitory. We’re here, but we aren’t. We want to be here, but we don’t.

“For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked.” (1 Cor 5:2-3)

It’s normal to groan for God in our weaknesses. Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and His ascent accomplished for us the gift of groaning for the sins that placed us at war with Him. We grow by groaning those sins against Him and our neighbor.

“For 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.” ( 2 Cor 5:4) 

We are in the tent, and our groaning isn’t (or shouldn’t) be for God to simply take our bodies away, so that we would all float up to God without them. But our hope is that through our  suffering and groaning , we participate in His dwelling in us by His Spirit.

To be in Christ, to be sanctified in His Word  and to know our suffering and groaning, is to know Christ.

To Know Christ, is to be sanctified in His Word  and to know our suffering and groaning.

Our own groaning over our  sin and suffering,  is His sympathetic groaning over our sin and suffering. For instance, when it is said by the LORD  in Exodus 3:7 that He  “know[s] their sufferings,”, it isn’t said from a distance (or to simply make a statement about his omniscience, because He does indeed know everything) . His knowledge of their sufferings indicated an identity with them. An intimate knowing, implying something much more personal than the way Adam knew Eve.

Our clothing, is our glorified bodies. Another way of putting it; Our bodies, glorified. Christ was the first fruits of the heavenly harvest. God raised Him from the dead in a glorified body by the activity of the Spirit.  (Rom 8:11) Christ is the seed that died, so that His death  may bring about the fruit of the full harvest (John 12:24)

To groan is to grow, to be burdened  is to begin life eternal. For this reason we have hope and confidence, even though now it may seem quenched by your sin and/or the effects of sin (there isn’t always a one to one correlation between sin and suffering. It is more complex, and the sting has many barbs). The opposing principle, our indwelling sin, and the death that it brings with be swallowed up in our deaths, but our mortality will be swallowed up by the resurrection of our glorified bodies.

Our confidence is objective, but it has a subjective feature, that is more powerful and more deep than our groaning. In fact, it is the very reason why we can groan over sin, and desire to have it put to death;

“He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” (2 Cor 5:5)

The Spirit applies what Christ accomplished. This application of redemption comes by the  indwelling of The Spirit of Christ. Christ went away to baptize us with the Spirit. The Spirit is the “fire”.

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