In the original language (Greek), the word for groan means to feel something so deeply that you cannot express it. In Romans 8:23-26 and 2 Corinthians 5:2-4, Paul uses the Greek word to describe a state of desperate prayer.
We know how much every living thing in this world suffers. Perhaps therefore it should not surprise us to read that birds and animals cry out to God for their food (Job 38:41; Psalm 104:21). Unlike many people, the birds and animals accept Godís rule: they know how much they depend on him (Psalm 104:27-30).
If, therefore, animals pray, we might expect their prayers to be simple cries for help. However, Paul insists that their desire is for something much greater. He compares their pain to the pain of a mother who is giving birth.
Sometimes prayer can be so desperate that it causes pain (Romans 9:1-3; compare Luke 22:44 with Hebrews 5:7).
However, although a mother suffers great pain at the birth of her child, her hope is even greater. In fact, nothing in this world seems to offer more hope than the birth of a child (compare Genesis 3:15-16 and Isaiah 7:14-16). When he becomes a man, that child may achieve wonderful things (Psalm 127:3-5). Therefore, the Book of Isaiah often links the birth of children to the idea of freedom for Godís people (for example, compare Isaiah 7:16 with 8:3-4; Isaiah 66:7-10).
Freedom for Godís people will bring freedom and peace to the whole world (Isaiah 65:25). That will happen after Christís return, when his rule over all things is complete.
So, the desperate prayers of all that God created are not in vain. God will answer those prayers. It will happen when he adopts fully his people, with the full rights of sons in his family (8:19; 8:23).
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© 2017, Keith Simons.