Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What Does God Do When We Hurt?

I walked into the funeral home one day before the funeral service. I went up to the casket to see the deceased. He looked like he was around 50. I found out a little bit later that he was actually nearly 20 years younger than that.

I had never met him before. He was the family member of a friend of mine.

During the visitation that day and the funeral the following day I heard the family and friends talk about this young man's life. Evidently he had a hard life. Some of the difficulty was thrust upon him. Some of it apparently came through self-inflicted choices he had made.

As part of the eulogy, his sister said something that struck me. "Hopefully he finds peace now because he was never able to find it here."

Romans 8:22 tells us that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.


The word connotes pain that can't be expressed with words.

And the Bible says the whole creation is groaning.

That's not hard to believe, is it?

Individuals. Marriages. Families. Communities. Nations. Industries. Economies. Nature.

All of it a part of our world.
All of it a part of creation.
And all of it groans.

For those two days at that funeral home "the whole creation" that was groaning had names faces and stories. It had birth dates and addresses. It had cell phone numbers and social security numbers.

And it was groaning.

The Gospel of John tells us another part of this story. In chapter 11 we have the account of Lazarus, a close friend of Jesus, who dies.

Jesus could have shown up sooner...but he didn't.

Jesus could have kept Lazarus from dying...but he didn't.

But Jesus does talk with the two, grieving sisters who remain. First he speaks with Martha. Then he speaks with Mary. Jesus sees her weeping along with (others) who had come along with her also weeping, and he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled (John 11:33).

I have a note in the margin of my Bible that I had written some time ago about this verse. I don't know where I got it from or who I quoted. But this is what it says about Jesus' being "deeply moved in spirit and troubled":

"He groaned and was troubled in spirit."

Jesus groaned.

The creation groans. And Jesus groans.

I find great comfort in this picture; a picture of a Savior who understands what it is like to groan down here. I don't know why I find such comfort in it. I'm not sure how to verbalize it. But I'm thankful that Jesus doesn't simply step into the tomb and call Lazarus back to life (which he does later in the chapter).

That would make him appear to be some type of caped, superhero who never bleeds, never weeps, never gets sick, never feels what we feel. That's not how Jesus is. He hurts. He weeps. He groans.

If you know what it is like to groan, if you are able to pinpoint places where the creation is groaning today, take heart.

You are not alone. Jesus has groaned with you. And through the Spirit, he still does (Romans 8:26).

Grace & peace

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