When you think of “groaning” what is the first thing that comes to mind? My thoughts automatically go to the groaning and creaking heard when wind blows through an older home. These noises can be a bit eerie as old houses seem to take on lives of their own during turbulent weather. Then my thoughts go to the groaning we do when the winds of life blow against our bodies which can be just as frightening or alarming at times especially as we get older. If you are near, at, or over the half century mark in life you know how achy the body can feel and the groaning that occurs as a result. Sometimes just getting the joints and muscles to move is like starting an old car, taking many tries and a long time to get it going. Over time our bodies become brittle and weak leaving us less able to withstand the brutalities of life. We must be aware of the weaknesses that occur over time in homes because of age, wear, and tear so that we can keep them safe and sound for habitation. Likewise, we must be aware of what happens to our bodies as a result of age, sin, and storms of life so that we can keep them healthy and strong. But there are times houses just need to be destroyed and new ones built in their place. And praise the Lord, there is a day when our bodies will be destroyed and we get to receive new ones in their place.
Besides the groaning that comes from age there is the groaning that can occur with sickness. For example, there was a time I suffered with a high fever for weeks with achiness and accompanying headaches. The pain and agony left me with no other recourse but to unwillingly groan for hours at a time even in my sleep as I was desperate to be set free from whatever was ravaging my body. Groaning also occurs as a result of carrying heavy burdens in life, dealing with the many corruptions attempting to keep us from living righteously, and wrestling with the sin that so easily entangles us.
Then there is the groaning we do in this body as it is being destroyed. In the blog “Death Happens! It Is Part of Life!” I compared our temporary earthly bodies which will be destroyed with our eternal bodies. By preparing for our heavenly habitation now, we are encouraged, excited, and look forward to the day our mortal ones will be swallowed up with life. Even though this destruction process is agonizing, we are told not to lose heart. 2 Corinthians 4:16 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” When our hearts are renewed day by day we remember there is more to be gained in death than in life and we understand our groaning serves a purpose. Being in tune with our spirit and His Spirit enables us to live, die, and live again!
There was a period of time while suffering with fever and pain when I did not want to live and indeed I truly wanted to die, two separate realities. There are times in life we feel so beaten down we just do not want to live but we do not want to die either. Then there are times we want to die in order to escape trials and trouble even though we really want to live. And then there are times we experience both. At one point I stopped asking God for healing (did not want to live) and begged Him to take me home (wanted to die). But I was missing the most important part of life and death – life after death! I had lost heart even though I knew about heaven and looked forward to being there because I was focused on my dying body instead of my renewed spirit. We need to be in a place of wanting to live, willing to die, earnestly desiring our new habitation, and then living eternally. All in God’s timing!
During short respites from intense pain and suffering there were moments when I moved from not wanting to live and wanting to die, to still not wanting to live but not wanting to die either. This left me with a different struggle because I had to face the fact even though I wanted to be with Jesus I did not want to die in order to get there. What a spiritual dilemma I found myself in during those weeks but God’s Word and Spirit helped me work through the process so that I came through with a deeper understanding and appreciation for life and death and how to prepare and celebrate both.
When the Lord completely healed and restored me to this life instead of eternal life through death, He showed me why I did not want to live and wanted to die, and the source of my errant thinking. I was groaning without purpose because I had not properly prepared for the possibility of death. As a result I did not have an earnest desire to be clothed with a heavenly habitation I just wanted to get out of this one. We ought to desire and welcome this holy conviction as it grows us in faith and readies us for His eternal purposes.
More understanding into this mystery is found in 2 Corinthians 5:2-4 “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be un-clothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.”
You see, we groan because there is a sense of being unclothed when we die but then discover we do not want or like to be naked. Even though we might not want to live, we do not want to die either. And if we do die, we want to be further clothed, to be with Jesus, to have death swallowed up by life. But we find in the process of being unclothed, it is very easy to miss the desire for new clothing and believe we are unclothed. There is fear that we will not immediately be clothed with our heavenly garments therefore we attempt to stay clothed in the ones we have. People who do not believe in life after death can say they are okay with being worm food when they die but they will think differently when faced with death, and then stand before the living God, because truth tells us no one wants to find themselves naked in death.
The question for Christians to answer is do we have an earnest desire to be clothed with a new house from heaven? Most of the time I think it is a resounding “No” even if we groan in this body. Judging by how we grab hold of any hope that might extend our life one more day, week, month, or year, it appears our earnest desire is to keep on living and groaning in this lifetime. Could this be because we do not really believe we have a new habitation awaiting us even though we know it? It seems obvious that if we look into this truth which is unseen, we would earnestly desire our new habitation, welcoming it for ourselves and loved ones when it is time.
In 2 Corinthians 5:5 we have the whole scenario of life and death, old clothing and new habitation, wrapped up as it reminds us of Who has made all the preparations so we can live and die knowing and believing everything has been taken care of – guaranteed. “Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”
The actual event of mortality being swallowed up by life requires preparation otherwise we find ourselves wanting to be further clothed but still naked. The great news is that God has prepared us for death and life! Knowing this we can focus our attention on heavenly desires, on our inward man which is being renewed daily, and on the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. God has prepared for our mortal bodies to be replaced and we need never question or doubt this process because He has given us a guarantee that life swallows death.
When we think of most “guarantees” in life we realize they mean little to nothing especially after reading the fine print. We can even purchase “extended” warranties which are meant to further guarantee our needs will be met should there be any trouble with the item we purchased. But even those are limited. On rare occasions companies might honor their guarantee, but more often than not, our specific issue is not covered and we are left with a useless item and a useless guarantee. A true guarantee cannot be useless because it is the assurance and formal promise that a product will be repaired or replaced free of charge if it fails within a particular period of time. Manufacturers and businesses give guarantees because they supposedly “believe” in their product’s ability to perform but it is evident they really do not believe in their product because they build lots of escape clauses into their warranty.
Because our experience reveals warranties mean very little and are not honored, we generally do not take promises, guarantees, covenants, pledges, or agreements seriously. For example, people regularly make commitments before the throne of God to love one another until death parts them but when the going gets tough, it is everything except death which parts them. We enter into all kinds of contracts these days but undoubtedly someone can find a loophole in order to break the agreement. Think about how many times people sign agreements without reading the fine print, deferring instead to having faith in the person or company asking them to sign. Usually we agree to things we would not agree to if we had read the fine print, and then we get angry because the people did not “tell” us all the details. Now, because of our experiences with false guarantees we have a difficult time comprehending the assuredness of God’s guarantee to us.
When God says He has given us a guarantee, He has already honored it! His guarantee is not limited, useless, nor does it need an extension. He guarantees that death will be swallowed up with life! And He gives us much more than a piece of paper as His guarantee. He gives Himself – His Holy Spirit! And not only does He give us His Holy Spirit as guarantee, but He prepares us to receive that guarantee! That is impressive! Oh, how I think God would be honored if we actually groan in this body because we so desire to be clothed with our glorious heavenly garments rather than because of pain and suffering.
Beloved, the next time you find yourself groaning , remember it serves a purpose as we earnestly desire a guaranteed new body. Let us match up our desire for life with His desire for true life! And then live!