I recently wrote a post about suffering based upon some things that God has been revealing to me in Romans. Much of it came out of a prayer for myself to grow in understanding of what God was revealing to me. Even as I wrote the short piece, I had a nagging feeling about it being incomplete. And it was. It likely still will be, even after adding this second installment. It makes sense, though, if I think about it. Because I will never have a complete understanding of God on this side of Heaven.
The funny thing about prayer is that God takes something small from me and answers it in big ways. I said a small prayer and here I was, expecting a small answer at some point in the distant future. Instead, I got a fast answer that was much larger than I anticipated. I love it when God stretches my mind. I think He does it with a sense of humor for me.
I set out in search of finding some hope and understanding that would sustain me in the storms of this life. I found it in focusing on the glory for us that is to come. But what I failed to include were the tools and gifts that God has also given us in this present time, while we are walking through the storm: prayer and the Holy Spirit.
When Jesus walked the earth, He spoke these words in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
There were, likely, multiple meanings behind Jesus’ words, but I can’t help but think of the burdens He is referring to as to include the sufferings we face. He spoke those words when He was here on the earth, but I think they stand for all time.
Later, in John, Jesus speaks of His leaving and how He will not leave us as orphans. In John 16:7, He says, “I tell you the truth. It is better for you if I go away. If I do not go, the Helper will not come to you. If I go, I will send Him to you.”
He is speaking of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus left, He didn’t leave us alone. He sent what He considered to be even better than Himself here on the earth. He sent us a Helper, a Counselor, an Advocate, and a Comforter. The Holy Spirit is right there with you through it all. He is there to help, to counsel you through the tough decisions, to advocate for you with the Father, and to comfort you. I picture the Spirit coming alongside me, helping me bear my burdens. And I find myself saying another prayer that I would realize and remember this. I am most definitely not alone.
The previous piece on suffering began with Romans 8:18, but as I continued to read further, I found those tools that are there to help us. In verses 26-27, Paul says, “In the same way the Spirit also joins us to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
Not only is the Spirit there for you to counsel and comfort, but He picks up the slack where we cannot to pray for ourselves. And remembering that He is unified with God, He already knows what God’s will is. He is praying for us when we cannot or do not know what to pray and He is doing it in accordance with God’s will. We can be assured that God will hear and answer. How awesome is that? I have this tool of prayer that I can use. And use it, I will. I don’t even need to be worried about praying the right way or the wrong way. I just need to try, and the Holy Spirit will help me with the rest.
Even when I reach those times where I am too overwhelmed to pray or don’t know how or what to say, the Spirit takes up the slack for me.
I love the part where it says the Spirit groans for us. I don’t think that means that He can’t use words, but more likely that He groans with us. He feels our burden and our pain and groans with us as He comes alongside us to help us. There could never be a more perfect comforter than Him.
Here is more hope: we have hope in what is to come and we have hope that we are not alone in the meantime. We are cared for and provided for all along the way. And the very next verse in Romans 8 is a verse I have always felt has a ring of hope to it. Verse 28 says, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.”
Rest assured that God is working for your good. He is using it all to do so, not even wasting one moment of the storms that come your way. This verse is the verse of a purposeful and active God, one who misses no detail and is always hard at work for our benefit. He wants us to have hope. Indeed, the last portion of Romans chapter 8 is full of some of the most resounding verses that give us hope. In verse 31, Paul asks, “If God is for us, then who is against us?” In verse 35, Paul reminds us that not one thing can separate us from God’s love. In verse 37, Paul calls us more than conquerors or more than victorious, depending on your translation.
I want to revel in that. God loves me and nothing can take that away. And so, He is hard at work for me. The victory has already been won. Not only that, I am more than victorious. There is more waiting for me than just victory. This message is for you, too. These words are worth celebrating!