As I sit at my desk, I can see a beautiful garden with palm trees, bamboo, cactus, and at least a dozen plants I cannot yet name. The sun is shining and there are big, billowy clouds mounding up over the mountain ridge a few miles away. The sun lights one side of a high rise while shadows deepen on the other facade. And I’m thinking back on the lesson my husband taught last Sunday, We Groan, We Glory.
Galatians 5:13 talks about being called to freedom, yet not using our freedom indulgently. 2 Cor. 12:9 reminds us that God’s grace demonstrates God’s strength through our weakness. And 1 John 3:2 tells us what we will be is not yet known, but we will be like him when we see him as he is.
Oh, that tension. That balance. That longing. That joy.
We groan as we see the effects of nature in upheaval in earthquakes, tsunamis, and wildfires. All the tragedies of the world are paraded before us daily in the news. So, even if we are not presently seeing people dying on every side where we live, we cannot forget what is happening elsewhere.
We groan when we see governments persecuting those who would be model citizens and honoring liars, perverts, and killers. We groan when people are forcibly kept from hearing the liberating news of redemption.
We groan because of prayers that don’t seem to have been answered or not answered the way we thought they should be.
And we groan as we see our own weaknesses and failings.
Groaning is a deep longing for God’s kingdom to come. It is part sorrow, part expectation, and all hope.
We glory. We rejoice.
We rejoice as we see even one life changed. A very wealthy man believes and is totally changed. He distributes his holdings to those who can manage it well. Then he takes to the road telling one person after another all that God has done to change him from a rich, miserable man to a free man with a message of life.
We rejoice when we see the faith of a child and the faithfulness of a great-grandfather. Our hearts are touched by the hard labor of those working humble jobs and by the attention to detail of the skilled laborer, both doing their work in honor and obedience to their Father.
We rejoice in knowing that one day all will be revealed. The Son light that seems shadows in this valley, will burst forth bright and glorious and eternal.
Each one of us groan with weights we carry for those we love and long for. Sometimes our prayer list seems so unwieldy we are tempted to throw it away in despair. One young PW asked, “How can I bear seeing all these people crowding around me on the bus and pushing past me in the streets, knowing that unless they hear, they will be lost?”
How indeed! Unless we walk in the balance between groaning and glorying. Without the glint of sunlight in the valley that shows us where next to place our foot, it is so easy to slip into hopelessness and despair. Like the gold edge to the black clouds that reminds us the sun is still there and shining as brightly as ever, our trust in our Faithful One reminds us that our hope is anchored in a reality we cannot yet see.
“Scriptures tell us repeatedly that all creation is groaning . . . Every speck of creation, everything that happens, every kid kicking a soccer ball down a road in Guatemala, each office worker in New Delhi, every ancient great-grandmother in a rest home in Boynton Beach, every baby swimming in utero at this moment around the world—all are beloved by God and are being constantly invited by him to love. And all can respond.” – Amy Welborn
So don’t complain, intercede. Don’t drop out, persist. Don’t grieve like those without hope, trust God in everything. Don’t blow these cares away like a feather, treat them with the loving care God puts in your heart.
Take up the cares God has given to you. Spend time in His light everyday so the shadows don’t hide His hands at work. Bring to mind God’s consolations that bring joy to your soul (Psa. 94:19). As you walk through the Valley of Weeping, make it a place of springs and go on from strength to strength (Psa. 84:6-7).
While we groan, we glory. Our hearts burst with anticipation for the day we will see in the true light of Heaven.
“Don’t grow weary in doing well
Don’t surrender in the fight
Keep on storming the gates of hell,
Keep on doing what you know is right
“For there will seasons of testing
And there will be weeping in the night
But soon we’ll be reaping the blessing
If we keep pressing on toward the prize.
“Keep on praying in the Spirit
Keep on walking in the Light
Don’t be fearful or discouraged,
Keep on doing what you know is right.”
Written by: Don Harris and Martin J. Nystrom/Integrity Music, Inc. 1993