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 with groans that words cannot express… And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. ~Romans 8: 26, 28
When Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, he wanted to teach them about the righteousness of God, and most especially how the righteousness of God is shown through the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. The Holy Spirit is a wonderful gift; the promise of God’s presence with us always, continuing the work of Jesus Christ in the world in and through believers everywhere!
Yet often, we have a rather narrow view of the Holy Spirit. It’s more like our security blanket than God’s continual presence at work in the world. We think the Holy Spirit exists only for our well-being. But this is not the case at all. When Paul says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose,” what he is really saying is that through the lives of believers, God works for the good of all, his whole creation.
So, even in our weakness (perhaps our selfish weakness?), when “we do not know what we ought to pray for, the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” And the groan of the Spirit is a groan for the needs of the world; he need for justice and forgiveness, the need for hope and salvation. When was the last time the Spirit groaned within you? When was the last time you longed for the world to change, for people to be freed of their oppression? When was the last time you long hungered for the redemption of all people? If we are truly opening a space in our lives for God, then these are the longings that we will have, and we will do something about them, too!
All around us are people who need to know the mercy, grace, forgiveness, hope, and love that comes through Jesus Christ. If we are not showing them these things, then who will? If we are not longing for the redemption of the world, then who is?
This month, children will head back to school. Parents will resume the school-year routine that was abandoned during the summer months. In the midst of all that, people will be looking to fill the voids of their lives, looking for a fresh start after a year or more of chaos. And I suspect many of them will be turning to the church for some help and some answers. Is the Spirit groaning within you for these people? Are you longing to show them the love of Christ at work in your life and in the world?
I pray that this month, each of us will take the opportunities that will certainly be placed “right in our laps,” to invite some people to church and to let the Holy Spirit go to work!