What Does Groaning Mean in the Bible?

Groaning is a recurrent theme throughout the Bible. From the groans of the Israelite slaves in Egypt to the groans of all creation longing for redemption, groaning expresses suffering, grief, and deep anguish. As Christians, understanding the meaning of groaning in the Bible gives insight into the human condition and God’s redemptive plan. This article will explore the significance of groaning in both the Old and New Testaments.

Key Takeaways:

  • Groaning often represents intense suffering and anguish.
  • The Bible depicts groaning as a natural human response to deep pain and oppression.
  • Groaning can reflect our distress over the fallen state of the world and longing for God’s redemption.
  • The Holy Spirit intercedes for believers with wordless groans.
  • Creation and believers alike groan for the completion of their redemption.
  • Groaning prompts God to act on behalf of his people.
  • Trusting in God’s faithfulness is the antidote to hopeless groaning.
What Does Groaning Mean in the Bible?

Groaning as Suffering and Anguish

Throughout Scripture, groaning conveys extreme suffering and anguish. The Bible often associates groaning with slavery, oppression, and physical pain and illness.

In Exodus, the Israelites “groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help” (Exodus 2:23 NKJV). Here, groaning expresses their misery and oppression under Egyptian bondage. When God hears their groans, he is moved to deliver them (Exodus 6:5).

Similarly, the book of Judges says that Israel groaned under Philistine rule (Judges 10:9). Their groans reflected the weight of foreign subjugation and indifference to their suffering.

Groaning can also represent physical infirmity. Job laments, “My groaning comes at the sight of my food, and my moanings are poured out like water” (Job 3:24 NKJV). Serious illness had left Job in perpetual pain and anguish.

Throughout Scripture, groaning articulates deep distress, whether from oppression, captivity, or physical affliction. It is the natural human response to severe suffering.

Groaning as Longing for Redemption

In the Bible, groaning also expresses a profound longing for God’s redemption. Due to the fallen state of creation, we groan inwardly as we eagerly await the consummation of our redemption and the restoration of all things (Romans 8:18-23).

Believers groan under the weight of life in a corrupted world. We experience sickness, pain, injustice, brokenness – all the effects of the fall. While we have tastes of redemption in Christ, we still suffer and groan as we await full adoption and resurrection.

Paul captures this in 2 Corinthians 5:2: “For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling” (ESV). We groan in our earthly bodies, longing for our permanent home with Jesus.

The groans of God’s people also call out for him to act. The Psalms are full of groaning in distress and longing for God’s salvation (Psalm 12:5, 90:9).

Groaning, both for relief from suffering and for ultimate redemption, is the Spirit-led response as we await Christ’s return. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us with wordless groans, expressing needs too deep for words (Romans 8:26).

Groaning as Divine Empathy

Importantly, God responds empathetically to the groans of his people. When the Israelites groaned in Egypt, “God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant” (Exodus 2:24). He promised deliverance.

In the Psalms, David pleads for God to consider his groaning (Psalm 5:1, 39:12). God hears the groans of the prisoner and promises to rescue them (Psalm 102:17-20).

Though God may seem silent for a time, he ultimately acts. The God who came down to groaning Israel in Egypt still responds to the groans of his people. The Holy Spirit groans with us and for us, bringing our anguish before the Father.

Our groans do not go unnoticed, but call forth God’s compassion and covenant faithfulness. This truth is a great comfort in the midst of suffering.

Groaning in Hope

Yet groaning is not the end of the story. The redemption accomplished through Jesus provides hope beyond the groanings of this life.

The Gospel of John vividly depicts Jesus’ empathy during the illness and death of Lazarus. He was “deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled” and even wept (John 11:33-35). Yet the story culminates in miraculous resurrection, prompting Jesus to declare “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25).

Our Savior is no stranger to human groaning. But he came to give us a living hope, seasoned with joy amid earthly trials (1 Peter 1:3-6).

As believers, we need not live indefinitely in hopeless despair. Through the Spirit, we can trust God’s faithfulness and “wait for the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23). The day is coming when “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore” (Revelation 21:4).

Until then, we have the assurance that divine redemption is working underneath our temporal groans. Like a woman giving birth, we presently suffer, but will forget the anguish when new life emerges (John 16:21).

May this hope sustain you as you walk through seasons of groaning. Though sorrow may last for the night, joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5). Our groans have an expiration date.

Examples of Groaning in the Bible

Here are some key examples of groaning throughout Scripture:

  • The Israelites in Egypt: “The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God” (Exodus 2:23)
  • Israel under oppression: “Israel was in great distress because of the Midianites; and the Israelites cried to the Lord for help” (Judges 6:7-9).
  • Job in his illness: “My groaning comes at the sight of my food, and my moanings are poured out like water” (Job 3:24).
  • David’s pleas: “Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low! Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me!” (Psalm 142:6).
  • Jesus at Lazarus’ tomb: “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled” (John 11:33).
  • Paul on the fallen creation: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:22).
  • The Spirit’s intercession: “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” (Romans 8:26).
  • Longing for resurrection: “For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling” (2 Corinthians 5:2).

May these passages give you a richer understanding of the meaning behind groaning in the Bible. In our pain, oppression, and earthly trials, God hears our groans. And through Christ, he provides everlasting hope and comfort.


In summary, the concept of groaning in Scripture powerfully conveys the depths of human suffering, the fallen state of creation, and an aching longing for God’s redemption. Yet the Bible also offers profound comfort – God hears and responds to the groans of his people. He sent Jesus to empathize with our pain and liberate us from the ultimate cause of all groaning – sin and death.

Though we continue to groan and travail on this earth, we can trust in God’s faithfulness and Christ’s promise to return and wipe away every tear. Our present afflictions are producing an eternal glory beyond comparison (2 Corinthians 4:17).

So take heart dear Christian! The day is coming when God will respond to the groans of his creation with final redemption and restoration. Until then, let us fix our hope on Jesus and walk confidently in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. The God who came down to groaning Israel still reigns, and is working even now to make all things new.

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