Groanings Too Deep For Words

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The Broken World

Have you ever had groanings that were too deep for words, where the details are so heavy and difficult to share, it’s hard to even breathe, much less talk about it? It may be a situation of abuse, abortion, addiction, bankruptcy, divorce, or the loss of a dear loved one to suicide. It may be the inability to have children, or perhaps you finally have a child, but your precious one has an unexpected terminal illness. It may be that you have a rebellious young adult causing tremendous heartache as a prodigal son or daughter. It may be that your eyes have finally been opened to your own sin and poor choices. Whatever it is, there’s a deep lingering sadness, and a time for grieving, sighs, and groaning.

Yet, our fast paced world doesn’t allow us to grieve properly. You know, the one of self-esteem and you can get through anything so get up and get going. The one where you must keep up that perfect public image, because let’s face it, who has time for reflection or grief? Who wants to be around that kind of sadness? However, sadness, as the Disney movie, Inside Out, vividly portrays, is a very helpful emotion. Sadness is a gift from God given to help us deal with the difficulties we face in a fallen world. Sadness brings tears of healing in the present, while making us long for a better world in the future. A world restored to the original intent of God dwelling with man in perfect relationship, where there’s no more suffering, no more tears, no more pain, and no more death.

No Words

Grievous circumstances are often when our words fall short and we can’t even begin to describe the spiritual and emotional turmoil we’re feeling. This is where the Christian clichés, and the token, often out of context, Bible verses given by friends, though meant to be encouraging and kind, may seem empty, unwanted and even cruel.

It is in the these life moments where words need to be few and where love needs to be shown with much patience and kindness. There’s not a quick fix – just snap out of it, solution, and our actions during these times will prove much stronger than our words. This is when just being there to serve out of love and support is the best thing we can do for one another before we speak words based on the “truth in love” principle. This is a time for weeping with those who weep. A time for listening. A time for reflection. “What is God teaching me?” It’s a place for hugs, a time for praying, – not just saying, “I’m praying for you”, but actually praying with someone. It’s also a time where we should ask for permission to speak. “I’m so sorry for what you’re going through, is it okay if I share something?”

How Long?

The grieving period really depends on the circumstances and the people involved, but eventually the sadness gives way to an opportunity to express joy in the hope of Christ. And here we must acknowledge that people grieve in different ways. This may take days, weeks, months, or even years. There will be good days and bad days, but there’s a Living Hope that we must turn to, in order to help us better understand why there is suffering. It’s a hope that may have never been completely lost, but we, or our friends, were unable to fully rejoice in it during the season of grief.

Paul, who was no stranger to suffering, wrote these inspired words of hope, a hope which cannot be seen, yet a hope we patiently wait for. It’s a hope that we must learn to embrace.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience (Romans 8:18-25 ESV).

Peter, who denied Christ three times, and who had to be terribly grieved by his denial throughout his life, also reminds those who are born again of our Living Hope. You see heartaches often have reminders that trigger renewed periods of grief. Can you imagine him hearing a rooster crow each morning or just seeing one wander by? Some days it may not be too difficult, others it may be like a fresh crushing blow. Like Peter, we must constantly remind ourselves of this hope:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:3-7 ESV).

Our Helper When There Are No Words

Going to back Romans 8, Paul writes where our Help comes from, and then writes one of the most quoted scripture verses for encouraging other believers. However, we must be careful when we use it. For instance, don’t jump to v28 when you should start with v26. Stay there for a while in weakness and be comforted, knowing that when we have no words to pray, the Holy Spirit knows, and He’s interceding for us with groanings too deep for words…

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:26-28 ESV).

 

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You’re Gracious To Me

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Who am I compared to You
Why should You even think of me?
All the sin and trouble I’ve caused
I have no integrity…

You’re gracious to me
You’re gracious to me
You’re gracious to me, O LORD

For I am a sinner
I’ve sinned against You
I’m not worthy to bear Your name
Yet You raised me up and redeemed my life
To praise You imperfectly
You’re gracious to me

My enemies taunt me
They remind me of my troubles
They whisper that I’m not Yours
But it’s only empty words…

O Blessed be the LORD
My hope is restored
For You beat my enemies
And You delight in me
My spirit is renewed
As I delight in You


Behind the lines

Psalm 41

As for me, I said, “O LORD, be gracious to me;
heal me, for I have sinned against you!”
My enemies say of me in malice,
“When will he die, and his name perish?”
And when one comes to see me, he utters empty words,
while his heart gathers iniquity;
when he goes out, he tells it abroad.
All who hate me whisper together about me;
they imagine the worst for me.
(Psalm 41:4-7)

Is It Ever Okay To Lie?

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It’s a question often debated and the discussion typically begins with a challenging situation where lying is thought to be the lesser of two evils. The classic example is during the time of Nazi Germany. Would you lie to German soldiers who have come to your house in order to protect Jews hiding in your attic? What about a present day scenario where a neighbor frantically runs over to your house seeking help fleeing from an abuser and minutes later the alleged abuser shows up at your door? These are the types of roads that lying as the lesser of two evils travel.

What about all the examples of lying and deceit in Scripture?
There are many examples of lying in the Bible and some of the most well known involve Jacob and his family as found in the book of Genesis. For instance, Jacob deceiving Isaac to ensure he receives the blessing, Laban deceiving Jacob by giving him Leah for a wife instead of Rachel (so he had to serve another seven years for Rachel), and Jacob cunningly getting revenge on Laban. Then there’s Joseph’s brothers deceiving their father Jacob by showing him the fake animal blood on Joseph’s coat of many of colors, and Potiphar’s wife falsely accusing Joseph of making unwanted advances when it was the other way around. Two more examples from Scripture include Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, who pursued Naaman and asked for money and garments deceitfully after Elisha said he wouldn’t take anything (2 Kings 5:15-27), and in the New Testament we have Ananias and Sapphira lying about their giving (Acts 5:1-9).

What if God meant it for good?
In the above examples the lies and deception recorded produced fruit of frustration and loss, the consequences of heartache and damaged family relationships, or brought judgment and even death. Now in the story of Joseph, we learn at the end of Genesis that God ultimately used the terrible circumstances for good (Genesis 50:20). And here I want to acknowledge that God has the right, the wisdom, and the power to redeem any sin and turn it for good. However, it doesn’t mean that He always does this for every sin, and when He does do it we may never have the satisfying privilege of learning about the positive outcome like we find at the end of Genesis. It also doesn’t reverse the initial consequences experienced by those involved. What the Bible teaches us is: His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-11), He is Sovereign and Omniscient and we are not (see Job), and we can trust Him and His ultimate good purposes (Romans 8:28). However, we are still responsible for our actions and we have to work through difficult circumstances while trusting a Sovereign God (Philippians 2:12-13). This leads down many theological pathways regarding God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility (helpful sermon here), and the problem of evil (helpful blog posts here and here), which is not the primary purpose of this post – so let’s get back to the main topic. 

Two Positive Lies
The two lies in the Bible which are most like our first two scenarios above are when the Hebrew Midwives lied to Pharaoh to help save the Hebrew babies from being killed (Exodus 1:15-22), and when Rahab lies to help the Israelite spies before the fall of Jericho (Joshua 2). Many believe these are justifiable lies because they have a good outcome. For instance, the midwives saved many lives and Rahab helped Israel and protected her family.

Conclusion
Outside of a few favorable outcomes Scripture never tells us explicitly that it’s okay to lie, but it overwhelmingly reveals to us that it’s wrong. This was covered in a recent post entitled “What does the Bible say about lying?“ However, in difficult scenarios where lying is either a last ditch effort or a calculated response to thwart a greater evil, these examples show it may be justifiable or considered okay. Note: If there’s time for calculation I would recommend you seek wise Godly counsel. Finally, there are two more things which must be noted, one is these situations are rare and most people will never face choices like this, and two, those who do, and decide to lie, must be willing to accept
 any consequences caused by the lesser evil.

Until That Day

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I know the One I have believed
His grace was entrusted to me
He will guard it until that day

Because He suffered in my place
I will be bold and unashamed
I will serve Him until that day

For I will never be the same
I have His Spirit and His name
He will guide me until that day

Behind the lines

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.
(2 Timothy 1:8-12 ESV)

It Should Have Been Me

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It should have been me
Crushed for my iniquity
While I was an enemy
It should have been me
Despised and rejected
Smitten and afflicted
It should have been me
Broken and spilled out
God’s wrath poured out
It should have been me

Behind the lines

He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs

and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
(Isaiah 53:4-5 ESV)

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