Another month has flown by and we are not closer to an end to the Pandemic. There is civil unrest over politics, racial inequality, and mask mandates in our own city and around the country. Many of us know family and friends who are sick or who have died because of Covid-19 or other illness. We are separated during times of grief and moments of joy. There are more who are hungry and unemployed and homeless. Our families with kids do not know when school will resume or when they might play with friends. We live in a culture of disappointment and postponement. It is a very uncomfortable time. But God is here.
I know God is here, because uncomfortable and difficult times are God’s forte. God is with those who need comfort, guidance, solace, strength, courage. God is with us when the path is long and gloomy. We can call out to God at all times and God is there. Our passage from Romans for this Sunday is particularly helpful. Paul writes, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” -Romans 8:26
With sighs too deep for words. That phrase has spoken to my heart. Those sighs encompass all the hurt we have experienced. They whisper to God the deepest needs and anxieties that we face at any time in our lives. We have an advocate who can articulate the complexities of conflicting desires and ensure that we are heard by the One who made us. This Spirit of God pulls out of us the very thoughts of our souls that we cannot even begin to put into words. This is good. Without the Spirit interceding, we would miss the great river of God’s mercy that overflows its banks and longs to quench the parched places and revive the dried up roots and wilting leaf. It is this same Spirit that gives voice to our petitions on behalf of others, even when our own tongues fail us.
I hear the disciples eagerly ask Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray.” How little they knew and how small is our own understanding when it comes to prayer. We scratch at the surface of conversation with God. We do not know how to pray as we ought, as Paul points out. But God makes up the difference. As we in our weakness offer anything in the way of prayer towards God, God gives our feeble words cadence and rhythm. Out of free verse, sonnets are written by a God whose eloquence fills the skies with light and the earth with the song of all that lives. Hold on to this truth when the days look gloomy or hopeless. Offer a lament or a thanksgiving, give glory to God in all things, and watch for signs of God’s presence even in the midst of the darkest day or most joyless night. We are carried by the prayers of the Spirit of God, now and always. May our spirits join with God’s Spirit in partnership to bring about the good that God wills for us.