OK, I’ll grant you we have experienced a hard winter thus far. Daily temperatures toppled faster than a toddler could crash a tower, and our total-inch snow tally continues to rise.So folks have done a good bit of complaining about this winter. Our birds even stick close to the feeders.
For part of this fall and winter, our Sunday School class has watched Sinclair Ferguson’s video series on the Holy Spirit, so I’ve started to develop a different view of groaning and grieving, but one not related to weather.
Instead, I am learning to associate both words with the Holy Spirit. Romans 8, a favorite chapter of Scripture to many, makes great use of groan. Creation groans, we groan, and the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf with groanings. Different from the grousing that first came to my mind, the Greek word here carries the idea of longing for something that we know awaits.
As I get older, I spend more of my prayer time in confession, conscious of sinning in thought, word and deed. Happily, however, I don’t fight my fallen nature alone. Jesus left me the Holy Spirit, and He has a passion to conform me more and more to the image of Christ. Thus the groaning that accompanies my realization “I’ve again sinned” creates a longing for the day when I will not. I groan, not in despair, but in a duet with the Spirit.
I still struggle with the moral lapses and long to be made whiter than snow. Don’t you?
When Romans 8 speaks of the Spirit coming alongside us with groanings, the word for the Spirit’s task is actually prefixed by two seemingly opposite prepositions. The word ends up meaning to assist, but in a task normally needing more than one party. Any living I am able to do for God’s glory occurs not through my power but because of the Holy Spirit’s power in me.
In addition to assisting in my transformation of becoming more like Christ, the Spirit supports me in moral weakness and assists me in my prayers. As a person of the Trinity, the Spirit knows the mind of the Lord, and He enables me to pray the will of God, even when I am at loose ends for words or ideas. What a loving tenderness that my heavenly Father willingly assists in my weakness! His Spirit, though not always sensed at first, is there beside me.