When words fail, we groan. When pain cripples our soul, we groan. When despair invades our hearts, we groan. When our relationships lie in ruins, we groan. When I am revealed for who I am, I groan.
A casual reading of the Bible reveals that groaning--soul anguish
--is no respecter of persons, nor of peoples:
- The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. (Exodus 2)
- For the LORD had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them. (Judges 2)
- For sighing comes to me instead of food; my groans pour out like water. (Job 3)
- My soul is in anguish. How long, O LORD, how long? I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. (Psalm 6)
- I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart. (Psalm 38)
- The roads to Zion mourn, for no one comes to her appointed feasts. All her gateways are desolate, her priests groan, her maidens grieve, and she is in bitter anguish. (Lamentations 1)
- Oh, my anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain. Oh, the agony of my heart! My heart pounds within me, I cannot keep silent. For I have heard the sound of the trumpet; I have heard the battle cry. (Jeremiah 4)
- Therefore groan, son of man! Groan before them with broken heart and bitter grief. (Ezekiel 21)
- And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. (Luke 22)
- I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. (Romans 9)
- For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you. (2 Corinthians 2)
At our Good Friday service, I was struck by the statement that the soul-anguish of Jesus in Gethsemane was not induced by his immanent suffering nor by a fear of death but rather by the indescribable loss of his relationship with the Father. We find no such evidence of soul-anguish from Adam nor of Eve in the realization of their nakedness. Truthfully, we scarcely comprehend it and acknowledge it ourselves. And if we can minimize our loss of relationship with God so lightly, what chance then do we have of meaningful relationships with others? No wonder then that Jesus summed up the entire law as, "'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer
and intelligence.' This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them."
May our soul-anguish find refuge in Jesus who knows the despair of separation. May our groaning find oneness with the Spirit of God who intercedes for us. May our despair lead us into real community with the Triune God and with others. And may our hearts find new despair, the anguish for those who have yet to know Jesus Christ, the Messiah and Savior of all men!
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." (Matthew 9)
groaning in Christ,
--Jeff Denlinger...good to know...
Leadership Ellipse: Shaping How We Lead by Who We Are by Robert Fryling
"Everyone in a position of responsibility knows the tension of leadership. It may be between tasks or people, money or mission, the present or the future. One often neglected tension is between our inner spiritual longings and the outward needs of the group we lead. But we need not feel forced to choose between the two. Leadership has more in common with an ellipse with two focal points than a bull's-eye with a single target. The Leadership Ellipse is designed to help Christian leaders embrace both halves of the tension--our internal relationship with God and our external relationship with others--to find a truly authentic, integrated way to lead. If you find yourself in a lonely, isolated place of leadership, this book can be your companion. If you find yourself longing to lead in a way that is truly Christian, this book can be your guide. And if you are simply exhausted, then this book can offer you a new way to find refreshment. There is life beyond the bull's-eye."