The Groanings of the Spirit
Ro 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (NKJV)
Ro 8:26 Likewise (just as the Creation groans) the Spirit also helps (The Spirit helps in a likewise manner? The Spirit helps us by groaning? Wait a minute! I want more help than that! I’m struggling here and all I’m going to get is someone groaning? If I want groaning, I can always get that around the water cooler at work or by telling my teenager that they can’t do something!)
What are you talking about....groaning! Have you ever heard a ship groan? Ever been in a place where you could actually hear timbers creak and groan? Maybe you’ve seen an old western movie where a mine is about to cave in. Do you know what’s going on when you hear that noise?
Something has shifted. Weight has been brought to bear in an out of the ordinary way and the timber is trying to compensate, trying to help the ship or the mine shaft bear the load and stay together. And so it groans and creaks. This is how the Spirit comes to our aid.
The vessel that He is occupying, the temple, our individual mine shaft if you will, is being affected by outside influences and pressures. You may be experiencing some of the trauma that we spoke of last week. Troubled marriages, troubled children, troubled job situation, depression, addiction, loneliness, financial struggles, uncertainty about your future, and the list goes on and on.
The Holy Spirit is living in you. He knows what you are going through and so He groans within you. He knows what your temple, what your mine shaft needs to withstand the pressure and HE brings that need to the Father in groanings of prayer. His very groanings are understood perfectly by the Father.
You cannot understand these groanings, but the Father can, and He will shore you up with the necessary strength, wherever you need it to help you weather the storm
1Co 10:13 There isn’t any temptation (trial or suffering) that you have experienced which is unusual for humans. God, who faithfully keeps His promises, will not allow you to be tempted (put to trial or suffering) beyond your power to resist. But when you are tempted (put to trial or suffering) He will also give you the ability to endure the temptation (Bear the load) as your way of escape. (God’s Word)
This isn’t about God promising you a way out of the tunnel for fear of a potential cave-in, this is about God shoring up the timbers to the point that the cave-in will not occur. The problem is, His definition of a cave-in (hopelessness) and our definition of a cave-in (hopelessness) are usually very far apart. We must learn to trust His definition and not ours! He wants you to wait it out. He’ll help you bear the pain!
Yes it’s frightening, but to give up and run out is to lose sight of the mother lode. To run to some other source of strength during this time, some other way to escape the pain is to lose an opportunity to trust God!
What did Paul tell us in Rom. 8:18?
Ro 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (NKJV)
In the midst of all your sufferings, don’t lose sight of the mother lode. Losing sight of the mother lode, (the glory which shall be revealed in us) may be our biggest weakness of all. We are so quick to take our eyes off the prize and look at our circumstances. We lose sight of the great reward that awaits all of us in eternity if we just wait it out with the Lord!
So, the Spirit helps “in our weaknesses”. (Plural, our weaknesses are multiple. The word “weakness” here is defined as feebleness of body or mind. That covers both physical and emotional weak spots. Body and mind. These weak spots are illuminated, brought to light, through various trials and sufferings.
The first feeble spot that Paul mentions is the mind, he says we are weak because we don’t know how to pray.
“For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought,”
Isn’t that the truth. One of the most difficult things we attempt to do as Christians is pray within the will of God. First of all most of us don’t have a clue as it concerns the will of God because we do not spend time in His Word seeking it..
As a result, our mind is unexercised as it concerns the will of God, (you know what happens to unexercised parts of our body? They atrophy, they become feeble, and so our mind atrophies or becomes feeble when it comes to what matters to God. And we do not pray as we ought.
Then there’s our flesh, it simply overpowers our unexercised will as it concerns the matters of God and simply outmuscles us and we wind up praying our will be done rather than God’s will be done.
“Oh Lord, give me the strength and peace I need to go through with this abortion.” Oh Lord help me as I move forward with this divorce.” Oh Lord help me to make the payments on this item I am about to buy on credit.” These are examples of prayer that has been overpowered by the flesh. They have nothing to do with the will of God and in fact are far removed from His will.
The spilling of innocent blood in the act of abortion is an abomination to the Lord! He hates divorce, and His Word tells us that we should not live beyond our means. So these are all prayers of the flesh and not the Spirit. They are far removed from His will.
Fortunately we have the Holy Spirit to help us in our feebleness.
“ but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Isn’t it comforting to know that at those times when we just don’t know how to pray, the Holy Spirit goes to work, picking up the slack and interceding for us according to the will of God? None of us know the will of God perfectly, but He does.
And when we find ourselves in a tight spot brought on by our sin, the sin of someone else, or just the effects of living in a fallen world, we can stop trying to find the words and allow the Spirit to take over our prayer.
This is difficult to do because we live in a society and have been brought up with the idea that we have to know all the answers. Turn on the TV, listen to the radio, read the paper, search the internet, man has an explanation for everything. We have to have the answers! Even in our prayer life we often come boldly before the throne with our own solutions rather than seeking God’s solution.
How much better it would be to admit our own feeblemindedness and trust the Holy Spirit to phrase our prayers for us with groanings that cannot be uttered? The problem is, we are so self sufficient that we very seldom reach that point.
Or we are so afraid of reaching that point that we will reach out and grab for anything to help alleviate the pain. We want out because we perceive the mine is going to cave in.
Instead of groaning in prayer, we’ll reach for the alcohol, the drugs, the food, the charge card, the divorce papers, the abortion clinic, ...well, you get the idea, what we really need to learn to do is prevail in Holy Spirit led prayer, believing that God will work our situation out for good!
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Here it is.....that verse. How many times have you had this verse quoted to you when you are going through a rough time? This verse can be an incredible source of comfort to those who are able to receive it, but it can also be a source of discomfort for those who lack an eternal perspective on life.
This is what we were trying to make clear last week. The sufferings and trials of this life are nothing compared to the glory that awaits those who finish the race with faith in Jesus. We have the eyewitness testimony of Paul to confirm this truth!
But, one of the terrible things about trials and pain and suffering is they are so “now!” And when the “now” hits us, when the rocks begin to fall around us, we often are overcome with fear of the pain and the anguish of the present.
We may even start doubting our relationship with God as we think, “nothing good is coming out of this that I can see, therefore I must not love God. Or “The way things are going here, I must not be one of those called according to His purpose! Or, “How could a loving God allow such a thing to happen?”
Well, you can stop that last line of thinking by focusing on the cross! Look at the tortured, bloodied, and battered body of Jesus on the cross and ask, “ How could a loving God allow such a thing as that to happen...... to His only Son nonetheless?”
But you see, God didn’t “allow” the cross to just happen. He planned it from eternity in order that you and I may be saved from our sins and spend eternity in heaven with Him. Let that truth sink in and you will get a better handle on your own trials and suffering.
God has a purpose for all of our sufferings. He has a reason for them. It may be just to have us experience the ramifications of our own sin, or the sin of others, or the sin of a fallen world. Or it may be to strengthen our faith by forcing us to rely on Him.
It may be to lovingly correct us from a wayward way, or it may be to prepare us to help others who are facing trials and sufferings of their own.
2Co 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (NKJV)
One of the things I love about this verse is God comforts us in ALL our tribulation, so that when we survive without the mine caving in, we can bring the good news of survival to those who are suffering from ANY tribulation!
You see, no matter my affliction, when I have, (by the grace of God) held on and passed through the waters, I can offer you the same hope of survival no matter what your affliction is! The trick to passing through the waters is to learn to hang on! Trust the groanings of the Spirit to get you through! He is the most powerful prayer partner you will ever have!
Isa 43:1 But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. (NKJV)
This is a promise from the faithful Lord! A promise we all need to cling to and believe. It is a key element to spiritual victory in this life! He will walk you through your trial!
Now, what if you catch yourself thinking, “God’s not helping me here, therefore according to V28, I must not love Him.” Think again. The mere fact that you are asking that question speaks of love for God, it speaks of faith in Jesus Christ. It speaks of God and His Son mattering to you.
If you didn’t have faith, what would it matter to you if you loved Him or not?
When your thoughts turn to this kind of doubt, remember that you are dealing with the devil....diabolos. His very name means to cast asunder or divide. He is simply trying to separate you from the love of God, something that God will not allow Him to do,
Ro 8:38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NKJV)
If there is any separation from the love of God, it is only because you choose to leave His open hand of protection. God does not hold you in an iron fist, He holds you in the palm of His hand where nothing can snatch you away, however you are free to leave at any time.
Isa 49:16 See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me. (NKJV)
I love that verse in relation to this message today! Think of the imagery here as it relates to a cave in! Your walls are ever before Him, though they lean and sway, He will never allow them to collapse and bury you if you just keep trusting Him as He holds you gently in the palm of His hand!
Jesus made it clear that as long as you find rest in Him, no one or no thing will be able to remove you from Him and His love!
Joh 10:28 "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. (NKJV)
The truth is, none of us love God the way we should, and more often than not, we are more interested in callings according to our own purposes rather than God’s. But that’s what the Law and Gospel are all about.
The Law reminds us of our lack of love for God evidenced by our disobedience, and our tendency to wander, and the gospel restores our love and our calling by freely forgiving us and bringing us back to God and His guiding hand.
God does this according to His great mercy with no questions asked, and when you get right down to it, is this not the purpose of God? We are simply called to be active participants in the process.
We are simply called to receive what God brings our way. Salvation, suffering, joy, whatever it may be,
Jas 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (NKJV)
That suffering, that pain, that trial, that you are experiencing right now in your life is a gift from God. He has a loving purpose for it in your life. I pray that with these words from the Apostle Paul today, you will embrace that truth.
I pray that you will allow that trial to bring you to the end of yourself, that you will use this trial as an opportunity to turn your prayer life over to the Spirit of God. He knows your pain, He knows your suffering, he knows your weaknesses, and He longs to come alongside you and pass them on to the Father, so that he will shore you up and help you endure.
Because it really is true, “all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” (For those who choose to remain in the palm of His hand)
Let’s pray: Father, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit. We confess to You, that we have often neglected this great prayer partner that You have given to us. We have relied on our own solutions and the solutions of the world, rather than allowing the Spirit to intercede on our behalf. Help us to come to that point where we are willing to let go of our own strength and rely on Him to bring our true needs before You. And Lord, when our world seems like it is about to cave in on us, help us to hang onto Jesus, knowing that He will not let the waters overpower us, that He will not allow the fire to burn us. Help us to know that You will pull us through. Help those here today who are up to their neck in raging waters to let go and trust You! Help them to realize that these sufferings and trials are temporary, that they will work out for good just as Your faithful word says they will. Help them to fix their gaze on the glory that awaits all who finish the race. Help them to see that they are indeed in the palm of Your hand and you will not allow anything to snatch them away. This we pray in Jesus name, Amen.