Groans for Glory

Title: Groans for Glory

Bible Book: Romans 8 : 22

Author: Alan Stewart

Subject: Problems; Hardships; Promises of God; Peace; Eternity; Heaven



When I was a small boy, Sunday afternoons were quite an event at my grandmother’s house. My mother was one of ten children, and my grandmother would prepare the meal for all ten children and over twenty grandchildren. I can still recall seeing the tables of food lined up in her kitchen that would give any all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant a run for their money. I could barely see above the table, but when I pulled myself up, I was able to get a glimpse of all she had prepared. Although I was very hungry, it was heartbreaking when I saw such items as green beans, peas, broccoli, and spinach. All of that would have sounded good to Popeye the Sailor Man, but not to a little boy. My grandmother often gave me these words of reassurance, “It will put hair on your chest.” She never knew it, but I was content with just having hair on my head! As I began to eat, there were often low tones of grunts and groans. However, I was well aware that if I could just tough out a little of that experience, in time, my grandmother would clean off the tables and bring out the good stuff: pies, cakes, strawberries, and ice cream.

While life has many sweet experiences, it also has its fair-share of sour and bitter ones. Because we live in a sinful, broken world, sorrow and suffering are a part of our lot. However, those things seem to be intensifying with the passing of time. Jesus told us that before the end of the world we would see dangers, difficulty, and desertion of the faith unlike the world had ever seen before. He described the wars, hatred, violence, calamities, and persecution that was to come. We are now seeing these things come to pass in ways that leave us startled and speechless.

When under Egyptian bondage, God’s people experienced pain and terror at the hands of their taskmasters. Ultimately, their cries had turned to groans. In Exodus 6:5, God said, “And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage...” The word “groan” means “a deep sigh of distress, to pray inaudibly.” Our groaning is a language clearly understood by God, and often the turning point of our distress.

Twentieth century Scottish minister James S. Stewart said, “God does not mock his children with a night that has no ending ...there comes at length the vindication of faith and the breaking of the day.” The Apostle Paul endured incredible suffering but, with an expectant heart, he wrote in Romans 8 of the glory that follows the groans. Consider the role groans will play as we move into the last days.

I. There are the Groans of the Seasons

In Romans 8:22, Paul writes, “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” As God finished His creation, He declared it was “good,” but today, creation groans as it awaits the endless cycle of corruption from the fall of man. As the seasons change, like a mother in travail, nature groans for the restoration of the perfection and beauty of an eternal spring. However, each change of season brings its own set of tumultuous pains.

Jesus spoke of national disasters and calamities in various places in the last days, but Scripture bears witness to the glory that can await on the other side of such traumatic events.

God used an earthquake at the death and resurrection of Jesus, and will use a mighty one at Jesus’ return.

God used a tornado, earthquake, and fire to reveal His “still small voice” to Elijah.

God spoke to Job out of the hurricane.

The winds may howl, the seas may roar, and the earth may quake, but God is ever mindful of how to reap great blessing out of the creation’s difficulty. Henry Ward Beecher wrote, “Troubles are often the tools by which God fashions us for better things.” Though creation may patiently endure a night of darkness, it sighs at the hope of a new day dawning.

II. There are the Groans of the Saints

In Romans 8:23, Paul writes, “...we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.“ When we were saved, the Spirit gave us a foretaste of the glory that awaits in heaven. From that moment, like a homing pigeon, the feeling of longing for home is born into us. The trials and suffering of life do not diminish that dream, but rather they make us reach and pray more earnestly for it.

Israel groaned for God’s protection when the hand of their oppressors became heavy.

David groaned for God’s presence when sickness and enemies limited him.

Job groaned for God’s peace when the burden of loss was more than he could bear.

Tears are as much a part of our history as are breathing, sleeping, and eating. In fact, the more salty the tears, the more vivid the yearning for a land with no sorrow, sin, or separation. Nineteenth century minister Andrew Gray said, “A Christian never moves so swiftly to heaven as when he is under a sanctified cross.” Someday, we will look back and understand that behind every rising tide of trouble we ever faced were strategic waves that pressed us closer to the shores of eternity. Though sighs of fear, frustration, and failure may fill the air, they are but a reminder that “... when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”

III. There are the Groans of the Spirit

In Romans 8:26, Paul writes, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” While the Holy Spirit feels the burdens of our weaknesses and suffering, He also groans for the quick accomplishment of God’s will and purposes in them. Whether our experience in life is that of success or suffering, no details of the experience are wasted. They are all woven together for our good and for God’s glory. Just as the caterpillar struggles in its transformation into a butterfly, the Holy Spirit groans with us and for us as we are being conformed to the image of Christ.

Groans often precede the miraculous transformation. Jesus sighed (groaned) just before He made whole the mute and deaf man.

Jesus “sighed deeply” at the sign-seeking Pharisees just before He crossed the sea and gave sight to a blind man.

Jesus groaned at the weak faith present just before He raised Lazarus to new life.

John Calvin wrote, “Afflictions ought ever to be estimated by their end.” We must never forget that the Holy Spirit is an expert at turning groans into glory.


The world we live in is growing more unstable with each passing hour. Failing economies, militant immorality, and extremist terrorism all add to the unsettled feelings we all possess. But, Jesus told us it would be like this. As distasteful as it all may be, I do have some wonderful news. The best is yet to come!


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