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She, too, had lost her daughter, though her circumstances were completely different than my own. Her note began: “I know you are a praying woman.”
Wow. I felt honored to receive her prayer request, but my heart sank as I read the desperate details. I whispered, “Jesus, have mercy. I don’t know how to pray for this new friend. I can’t wrap my head around her situation.”
The grief washed over me on her behalf, triggering a fresh flood of personal sorrow. I found myself weeping and wishing the world wasn’t filled with suffering and despair. I dried the tears with the backs of my hands, and a sigh escaped. Then a groan.
Perhaps you’ve experienced that same kind of groan. The feeling lies deep within your soul and sometimes slips out without warning. Or maybe it seeped for a day before exploding like a strong espresso’s bitter flavor. Groans are the inarticulate sounds of pain.
The Apostle Paul knew the sound of agony well. In his letter to the Roman church, he told them he could hear the cries of the earth, for “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:22). He further explained that the pain we experience in our bodies, in this world, will not stop until our bodies are redeemed in heaven. There we will experience the restoration and redemption of Jesus fully, but until then, there will be moans and groans. Things that we do not understand and cannot comprehend. Suffering and grief.
But Paul doesn’t leave us in despair, and neither does our loving Savior. When grief and sorrow gripped my heart, the Lord brought Paul’s writings to me in a beautiful way, and I clung to the words he penned all those years ago in Romans 8:26
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.”
Weak indeed. There is no weakness like that of total dependence on another. And yet it is in that very weakness when we become totally dependent on God, that He provides the Spirit as our Helper.
“We do not know what we ought to pray for,”
I honestly didn’t know how to pray for this dear woman who had written to me. The burden was too heavy for my frail shoulders. The monumental situation stole my ability to know what to ask for. But while the moment felt too deep for words, I claimed the next portion of Romans 8:26:
“The Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”
I didn’t have to have words to pray, but I could bow before the Lord in spirit, yielding to Him in my weakness. I could simply give myself to what the Spirit would have to say for me. And although no sound escaped my own lips, the Spirit of God interceded to the Father God for my friend. He knew what she needed. He knew what I needed. And He knows what you need today.
When your needs are too deep for words, may your heart be encouraged to embrace the Holy Spirit helper, whose wordless whisper speaks volumes on your behalf.
A Prayer for Today
Dear Father, Words refuse to escape my lips today, and I cannot find them. Not only do they stall before reaching my tongue, those same words float around in my mind, failing to make complete sentences. They fail to join together in expressive thoughts to unite my emotions and intellect. Oh, the agony of a soul at a loss for words. Yet as Creator of the universe, You have provided. For when humanity grips my spirit with unbelievable strength, and when defeat nags my mind with unbearable vigor, the Holy Spirit intercedes for me with groaning too deep for words. You, the God who knows all, intimately knows my heart. Thank you, Father.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
What’s Your Take?
How has God given you help when your pain was too deep for words? Share in the comments!