We Groan, Being Burdened
James Smith, 1842
"We who are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened." 2 Corinthians 5:4
A groan is the effect of pressure, the pressure is caused by sin. All creation groans in consequence of sin. "We know," says the Apostle, "that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." Romans 8:22-23
Paul had been filled with the Spirit, was most extraordinarily endowed, and peculiarly favored; yet he groaned under a burden, which made him cry out, "Oh wretched man that I am; who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"
Our present habitation is a tabernacle — a frail, unsuitable dwelling. We are exposed on every side to the storm and to the tempest; but we look for a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. We are burdened at present — the concerns of the family, the business, the church — burden us. Or if free from such burdens — the corruptions of the heart, and a sick disordered body are a burden to us. The burden makes us groan, longing for the day of redemption — when we shall be exactly like Jesus — for we shall see Him as He is.
The groans of the Apostle were not the groans of impatience; fretfulness was no feature in his character. Jesus groaned — but they were sinless groans, Paul groaned — but they were the groans of a holy mind, longing for freedom from sin, ability to serve God without imperfection, and to enjoy Him without interruption.
Pain occasions groaning — but all our groans should be directed Godward; they should all be turned into prayers, and then they would be to our advantage.
The Lord listens to the groans of His people. It is said of Israel, when oppressed by Pharaoh and His task-masters: "The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them. The LORD said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey."
David cries out, "I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears; I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease; and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and sore broken; I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart. Lord, all my desire is before you; and my groaning is not hid from you. My heart pants, my strength fails me; as for the light of my eyes, it also is gone from me. By reason of the voice of my groaning, my bones cleave to my skin."
And was it thus with the man after God's own heart? Yes, the most favored saints have always been found groaning sinners.
The present wilderness is lined with thorns and briars — their present state is one of suffering and trial. But they are "looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the Great God our Savior; who shall change our vile bodies, that they may be fashioned like unto His glorious body!" Groan then . . .
for Heaven —
and all will be well.