The third type of groaning is the Spirit groaning on our behalf in intercessory prayer.
It’s very encouraging to know that while many times, we don’t know what to do. We don’t know what God’s will is in many specific instances of our lives. But the Spirit knows exactly what to pray for in every situation and prays according to God’s will on our behalf. Read Romans 8:26-27.
26 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 with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. ~Romans 8:26-27
We might not know the mind of the Spirit, nor the will of God in any specific sense, but we have the Holy Spirit who groans and intercedes for us in accordance with the will of God.
What a comfort this is!
There is a misconception that being Spirit-filled is synonymous with always smiling and being happy all of the time. As strange as it may sound, groaning characterizes the life of the Spirit-filled Christian. All creation presently groans. Every Christian should be groaning. Even the Spirit groans on our behalf. This is because our redemption, while certain, is not yet complete.
We are living in a world subject to corruption and futility. We are living in bodies subject to corruption and futility. We struggle against our own sin and imperfection. We know that what we are at present falls far short of what God yet intends to make of us when He completes His redemptive work in us.
Do not misunderstand; it should not be said that our lives as Christians are characterized only by suffering and groaning. We have peace with God, presently. We have joy in the midst of sorrow. We have the benefit of many blessings which come from the hand of a gracious and loving God, now, as well as those yet to come in the future.
But when all is said and done, God does not intend for us to be content with what we are. Our present imperfection and groanings are designed to prepare us for our future sonship. Suffering is preparation for sonship. Groaning is a prerequisite to glory.
Therefore, this section ends with a note of hope. Read Rom 8:24-25.
24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. ~Romans 8:24-25
Hope is not something we think of much because we look at our lives right now and things are going well. Life is good and there is no groaning over sin, no longing for a better place.
But when you or someone you love suffers, the you start thinking about hope.
For the believer, the Spirit in us teaches us to groan, but it is groaning coupled with hope because we have someone to turn to in our groaning.
Our groans are echoes of eternity, it is our expression of longing for redemption, change, when all wrongs will be made right.
We have a sure hope. We are not just living for Jesus in this life for nothing. God is preparing us for glory through our suffering.
Suffering over sin gives us a sense of problem. This sense of problem deepens into a longing for a future glory and full adoption. And when we don’t know how to live our lives, the Holy Spirit himself intercedes on our behalf in accordance with the will of God.
From groaning to glory.
Concretely, don’t be afraid of suffering. If there is not even a hint of suffering in your life, invite suffering. There is plenty of suffering in our world. Notice people around you who may be fine on the outside but suffering on the inside. Especially during the holiday seasons.
If you still don’t see anyone suffering around you, go where people are suffering. You could pray about joining a local mission work. You can get involved with us in visiting a local elderly home in Alhambra. You can help with the homeless on Skid Row with Set Free ministry. You could help a fellow student who is struggling in his or her classes. There are ample opportunities to invite suffering into your life.