Sighs too Deep For Words

Likewise 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. And God who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:26-28)

Nearly 10 years ago this past spring I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was devastating news. Immediately after a long surgery, I was started on chemotherapy. Within a few days, the medicine prescribed to help with the nausea stopped working. I felt constantly and bitterly ill. For weeks I ate very little. I became weak exhausted and my mind began shutting down.

I was so deeply fatigued that I was on bed rest for weeks Sensitivity to light and sound made it difficult to go outdoors. I couldn’t read or watch TV to pass the time. I couldn’t even pray and it was terribly isolating. Often I just lay quietly, blanketed by exhaustion and emotional numbness. It was a time of spiritual drought and darkness for me.

Then one late summer afternoon, I got a call from a beloved senior member of our congregation. She told me in her warm comforting voice that the congregation was praying for me and my family every Sunday morning. She said that many members were praying for me in their private intercessions. What comfort and hope it brought to me! I felt the Holy Spirit surround and enfold me and my family. I felt comforted knowing that others prayed for me and my family, as I was incapable of doing so myself.

There are times when we are numbed by circumstance and overwhelmed with exhaustion. Even just the effort to reach out to God in prayer is too much and we are mute with grief, exhaustion or confusion. Then God “searches the heart” and guides the Holy Spirit to do His thing! The Holy Spirit takes over and prays for us and through other’s prayers for us. This will happen because God promises it to be so.

Then, once we have allowed the Holy Spirit to do His job, we are urged to have faith; God promises in Romans that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose (8:28). It brings song to the heart numbed by silence and pain, and renewed comfort to the disciple who is exhausted by the effort to recover and survive. Thanks be to God that this promise is for us, now and forever!

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