Oct
09

Groaning by Randy Rowley 10/09/18 ©

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Over many years of hunting I’ve heard a lot of sounds – soft, barely audible sounds, loud frightening sounds, crashes, growls, howls, shrieks, and cries of agony.  On a hot Saturday afternoon deer hunt in early October I heard a sound that I had never heard before.

As I driving towards the west side stand on a property that I hunt outside of Round Rock, I was greeted by a doe that ran in front of my truck and then down towards the creek.  She was soon followed by a young 8-point buck in hot pursuit.

I don’t think that I startled them.  She seemed very intent on getting away from her pursuer and he seemed very eager to catch up with her.  Neither of them gave me as much as a sideways glance.  Soon they were both out of sight.

I parked my truck, put on my safety harness and backpack, and cocked my crossbow.  I then headed over to the west side feeder and added some fresh corn to the ground.  I then climbed the 15’ ladder stand that was 24 yards away from the feeder, and got settled in.

In about an hour I saw movement.  A doe had emerged from the woods.  She stood there looking towards the feeder for about three minutes.  She then moved down towards the creek until she was out of sight.

In less than three minutes she came up from the creek, but she was not alone – two other does had joined her.  They walked slowly and carefully towards the feeder, pausing every few steps to look around.

Suddenly, the trailing doe took off running back towards the creek.  The reason for her fright soon emerged – the 8-pointer that I had seen earlier had returned.  I don’t know if this was the same doe that had ran in front of my truck earlier, but it was definitely the same buck.

In a flash they were both out of sight.  The remaining does seemed to shrug their shoulders and continued heading gingerly towards the feeder.  After about five minutes they finally arrived and began to eat cautiously, looking in all directions as they ate.  I had an easy shot at either of them, but decided that they were both too small.

After about five minutes I saw movement again from the creek.  The buck had returned.  He came out into the open and stood still, watching the does.  Unlike the does, who looked in all directions, he was focused intently on just them.  This gave me several seconds to look him over.  I confirmed what I had earlier believed – he was not a legal buck for the west side of IH 35 in Williamson County, which requires a 13 inch minimum inside spread for forked bucks.

This guy might have gone eleven inches.  If he’s not killed, he’ll probably develop into a legal buck in a year, but I don’t hold much hope for him in his present reckless condition.

As I watched the drama unfold, he slowly walked up to his would-be girlfriends.  Perhaps he was tired from chasing the doe (or does) or perhaps he thought it was time to try a different tactic.  Then he did what I’ve never heard a buck do in person before – he grunted.  It sounded like a groan.  It wasn’t loud, nor long and he only did it twice.  Remarkably it sounded just like my Flextone grunt call.

Unfortunately for him, his new tactic had the same result as his earlier one.  Both does took off running towards the thick woods.  He followed in hot pursuit.  In three seconds they were gone.

Those were the only deer that I saw that afternoon, but I was not disappointed that I didn’t see more.  It was a sight and a sound that I will not soon forget.

Like that buck, we humans will sometimes groan when words fail us.  A groan is a deep sound that our heart, instead of our vocal cords, makes.  Sometimes we are in such despair because of suffering that we’re experiencing or our lives are so out of control that we have no words left.  Sometimes our sorrow is like a warm blanket that we’ve wrapped around us on a cold day that we don’t want to get out from under.  We’re like the overwhelmed Elijah, who was on the run from Queen Jezebel‘s men after he killed the prophets of Baal and she in turn promised to kill him.  He sat under a tree and asked God to let him die, saying ““I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”” (I Kings 19:4b.)

When we’re in similar despair to Elijah’s, there is often very little that we can do to resolve it.  Some of us will stubbornly refuse to be comforted when we receive hard knocks such as the loss of a loved one.  Some people think that such a person’s faith is weak, but even Jesus responded with deep sorrow when we learned of the death of his friend.  When Jesus arrived at Lazarus’ tomb he wept (see John 11:1-35), knowing full well that he was going to raise him from the dead.  He could have said, “Guys there’s nothing to be upset about; I’ve got this,” but instead the Son of Man displayed a very human response.

Those of us who refuse to be comforted and instead embrace sorrow when we encounter loss are not doing so because we’re in denial.  We know exactly what we lost.  And we know that all the words in the world can’t change the facts.  Our joy can become dead, and we might even be in danger of being destroyed by our despair.

Romans 8:18-20a (NLT) says, “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.  For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.  Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse.”  Some of us may respond with, “That’s true, but I’m not even thinking about heaven, I just want out of hell,” “Where is God in my waiting?” and/or “Why has he not fixed this yet?”

God never promised us that our lives would be all sunshine and roses.  In fact, Jesus promised just the opposite.  He said in John 16:33 (NLT), “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.  Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.  But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  We probably will suffer, but we can overcome because we have a victorious savior and we’re not fighting alone.

God sent the Holy Spirit to help us.  Romans 8:26-27 says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

The Holy Spirit searches our hearts.  He does not ask us to explain our pain or even to put our requests into words, as we often don’t know what to pray for when we are in despair.  He then looks at our damaged hearts and begins to groan.  He doesn’t tell us why we are suffering or how we can overcome our despair.  Nor does he convict us for feeling so bad or rebuke us for our lack of faith, telling us to “snap out of it.”  He breaks the silence of our sorrow with a deep, guttural cry.

His groans remind Jesus of the pain that he suffered as he was tortured and crucified, the sting of our sins, and the agony that he experienced when the Father abandoned him on the cross (see Matthew 27:46).  The Holy Spirit partners with us in a fellowship of pain and translates our silence.  And the man with the nail-pierced hands, hears him.

It’s alright if you find yourself in despair and unable to put what you are experiencing into words.  The Holy Spirit intercedes with groanings too deep for words.  He says to Jesus, “Let me show you the pain in the heart of our child.  He needs you to cry for him like you did for Lazarus.  Please act on his behalf.”

Sometimes when we are in despair there are no words that we can say, and that’s OK.  Like that buck groaned on that hot fall day, we can take comfort that the Holy Spirit is groaning on our behalf.

The relentless suitor

One of the does

Another one of the does

Categories : Devotionals

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Bible verse of the day

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Today’s Devotionals