"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." Romans 8:26 NIV
My apologies to Jerry Lee Lews for the title to today’s devotion, but in reading Romans 8:18-25, there's a lot of groaning going on. In writing to the early church, Paul talks about how any suffering we experience on earth pales in comparison to the glory of eternal life with God. In Paul’s typical style, he is very picturesque in using words to paint a picture of this groaning.
“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.” Romans 8:22-23
But it raises the question, why do we need to suffer at all? Why is all the groaning necessary? Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?
To understand, we need to return to the decision made by Adam and Eve in the Garden and the resulting consequence in Genesis 3:16-19 and our continued actions to this day. We have an uncanny knack -- this is nothing to brag about -- for taking God's perfect creation and defiling it through our sinful actions. We alter the balance of nature with our pollution, create miracle drugs with side effects that include tiny disclaimers, "in some cases may result in death,” and we alter the DNA of our food sources with deadly chemicals. We then turn around and blame God for the consequences of our actions.
We have created for ourselves through sin a lot of things to groan about. We have painted ourselves into a corner, and we become distressed. How do we even begin to ask God for help? Words fail us, and all we can do is groan. But the Spirit hears, understands, and intercedes. In his infinite love and compassion, God comes to our rescue every time, enfolding us in his arms, giving us refuge, comfort, peace, and forgiveness.
Father, today we offer our groans. We confess we have sinned, and frankly, we don't know how to ask for help. We don't know what we need, and we don't know how to pray for others, but we know you understand our jumbled thoughts and inadequate words. When we can't even form words, and all we can do is groan, you still hear us. Thank you, Lord, for the hope and promise offered in Jesus Christ. We ask forgiveness for our sins and pray that your will be done in all things. Please help us in this life while we await Jesus' return, and we join in your final victory. Amen.