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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Sound of My Groaning

"I will love the light for it shows me the way,
yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars."
~ Og Mandino

A Prayer of the Afflicted, When He is Overwhelmed
and Pours Out His Complaint Before the LORD.
Hear my prayer, O LORD, And let my cry come to You...
My heart is stricken and withered like grass,
So that I forget to eat my bread.
Because of the sound of my groaning
My bones cling to my skin...
He looked down from the height of His sanctuary;
From heaven the LORD viewed the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoner,
To release those appointed to death.
~ Psalms 102:1,4-5,19-20 (NKJV)

In the beginning was the Word ...
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
~ John 1:1-4 (NKJV)

The Sound of My Groaning

In being afflicted, overwhelmed, and stricken, what is the sound of groaning?

It is surely different for each of us. To be in such agony of spirit that we forget to eat, to sob with such violence that our ribs cling to our skin, to feel our hearts withered like grass—this about sums it up for me.

Throughout my life, I could not remember a time of being angry at God or thinking Him cruel. I certainly cried out "why" more often than He should have tolerated, but I suppose I accepted that if He is God He must be good and may do as He wishes. (Only inexplicable grace can explain this attitude.)

Then came a time of pain and rejection like none I'd ever known. Like a stormy sea, it buffeted me mercilessly as I rode its waves and clung to faith. I was sustained by the hope of light as I waited for the clouds to clear.

But the relentless storm finally prevailed. I grew weary and felt my hold slip as sorrow billowed over me. I felt the coldness of anger. I succumbed to the cry, "Oh my God, how can You be so cruel?"

As the thought was given the substance of words, its hideous form became instantly apparent and I shrunk back from it with rejection. Faith is the assurance of the unseen, and faith assures me that my God is not cruel. Faith extinguished doubt, I felt the Lord hear my groaning, and release was mine. I quit trying to ride out the storm and slipped into a loving Father's waiting arms. The pain did not stop, but I found His presence and comfort in the midst of the suffering. I hurt, but I did not hurt alone.

So cradled, I found peace in the eye of the storm. In the darkness of night I gazed into His Heaven and saw the glory of stars such as the glory awaiting me. In the Word I found strength to face the storm wall which would pummel me yet again—I gained endurance to face the raging winds of dark clouds until they cleared and the life of light was again mine.

Light is always waiting.

"He is good. Only good."
~ Betsy ten Boom, at Auschwitz concentration camp,
from the biographical movie "The Hiding Place"

Contrasting points-of-view, questions and feedback are invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
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  1. This is beautiful. My groanings are complaints, but my sighing is the expression of my soul --- weary of the world, expecting the return of Christ any day now!

  2. I'm going through a season right now in which my cry is: "Why are your people so difficult, begrudging, and hard to love?" I don't think I've ever had the "Why are you so cruel?" complaint. But never say never--as you write so eloquently, there's always a chance that the storm will prevail.

  3. I have been angry with God in the past, and can only be thankful that He loves me enough to have held me anyways.

  4. Being angry at God is something I have never struggled with, but I see it all the time. In my mind it is futile to hide anger directed at God. He knows already.

    More beneficial is to explore the primary emotion that drives the anger. Hurt? Shame? Frustration? Whatever it might be...

    Thanks Anne... :-)

  5. David, I well understand the weariness of the world. Trust me. But we have only a few hours to use our gifts of this age to lay up eternal treasure. Eternity will come in His perfect timing.

    Rosslyn, if you had told me before it happened that I'd see the day of feeling anger toward God or accusing Him of being cruel (however fleeting), I'd have never believed it. But then again, I never expected the storm that provoked it--a storm of my own making, not His.

    Helen, strangely enough, in that fleeting moment of desperate fury I felt coldness rather than fire. Revelation 3:16 came to mind. I think God can work with cold anger more readily than the apathy of lukewarmn.

    Russell, I'm glad to know there are others for whom anger toward God is foreign, because I've long felt it sounded uncaring of others to admit it. Had it persisted, I've no doubt my analytical nature would have sought out the source. In this instance, it was the uncharacteristic snap that an injured dog might turn upon a beloved Master, strictly out of pain, even if I had some responsibility for it.

  6. "My heart is stricken and withered like grass." Oh, the Bible is so poignant.

    I went through a very intense time of pain and anger I directed toward God after double miscarriages. I felt emotionally wrecked. I don't open up about this often, but I feel safe to do so here on your blog.

    Cradled, I too found peace in that storm and every storm that has followed.

    "He is good. Only good." Spoken from a woman who could have said anything but.

    Powerful post, Anne. You continue to MOVE me.
    ~ Wendy

  7. What mercy he offers to allow us to communicate in groans when there are no more words.

  8. I praise Him, even in the darkest storm, He is my guiding light, my sweet peace.

  9. This is a fantastic post, Anne. As you said, so many struggle with anger at God, especially in the hurry-hurry-hurry world we live in, where we are slow to accept that God will work in His timing, not ours. Thank you for this wonderful food for thought.

  10. With groanings too deep for words ... yes, He hears us ... always.

  11. Wendy, I'm sorry to hear of your loss. I remember how my mother was devastated to lose her 5-month old baby, and it was no less than her own miscarriages. I know that the lives of your children are no more forgotten than if they'd drawn breath.

    It is difficult to say, "The Lord gives, the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord!"

    But He is still good, and worthy of all blessing. I am all the more encouraged by your testimony to know where you've been.

    Thank you for sharing. I am honored that you felt comfortable here.

  12. T. Anne, I am comforted to know that when even *I* don't know what the groans mean, He does, and responds because they are directed toward Him.

    Denise, I can only think that your own many storms and hours of darkness are what fill you with light now. You are a true inspiration and example to me!

    Gwen, thank you for being His ears and hands and heart during my times of groaning.

    Susan, those groanings may even be breathless and silent, and still--He hears.

  13. I remember the groaning or wailing too well. I sought God and felt He wasn't there. Now looking back, I'm glad he hid his face. It made me seek Him the more. He will only leave us for a little while, but not forever.

  14. Ellie, I like the way you expressed that God "hid His face" and you sought Him more. But I'd like to think He never actually leaves while He's hiding.

    This brings to mind my life verse:
    And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
    (Jeremiah 29:13)


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