Friday, October 28, 2011

When Something Is Too Deep For Words

If you are like me, the turmoil around the world can sometimes overwhelm you.  You watch it on television, read it in the news, see it shared on a social site, or actually witness it yourself.  A range of emotions can wash over you, from grief to outrage.  If it sticks with you, you feel compelled to pray for the situations and the people involved.

But that's where it can sometimes stop.

Words will not come, even though you desperately understand the need for them.  The images and the story spin like a whirling dervish in your mind.  Discomfort grows as you struggle to form a petition to bring before God's throne.  You want to express yourself, thinking that if you are unable to make your thoughts clear, He won't understand them.  You attempt to frame your words in such a way that causes you to think you sound more like a frantic, babbling idiot than a sensible child running to his Father for intercession and intervention.  And when you are done, you wonder if your prayer reached Him, or merely bounced off the ceiling.

I think thoughts like what I described are common with us.   And we certainly know where they come from.  Perhaps the adversary's greatest weapon in his arsenal is to try and draw believers away from an intimate relationship with the LORD.  He knows he can't have us, but he will sure continue to try and discourage us and draw us away from God's merciful throne.  He has been very successful in this endeavor over the centuries that have preceded us, turning multitudes away from the life-giving grace God has extended to all men and making His children question His continued presence in their lives.  The sad part is that the enemy will continue to attempt to deceive us until he's finally defeated.  Personally, I look forward with great anticipation to that day, and it can't come soon enough.

After reading two articles the other day that spoke of the total depravity of mankind and the depth of the dark pit that the world is falling into, I found myself in the condition of being speechless.  "Shocked" is too mild a word.  In fact, I was unable to apply any words to the emotions I felt.  I was struck dumb and mute.  My heart felt as thought it was being ripped from my chest as I stared in disbelief at my computer screen.  Surely, what I was reading couldn't be true!  But when I realized that it was, it became nearly impossible for me to express myself in prayer.  Instead, I languished in utter disbelief and profound grief.

It is during times like these when something too deep, too disturbing, too depraved prevents me from forming and defining clear petitions to present to God.  Paralyzed with utter dismay and astonishment, I am only able to groan with painful mourning over the condition man finds himself.  At that moment, there is no earthly language that is adequate enough to express myself. 

But that inarticulate sound that comes up from the depths of my soul is enough.  No words are necessary.  God has always been aware of what I have just come to know.  It is not required of me to give Him the details, only to let Him know I am aware of it and to express my deep desire for Him to respond, even if it is in the most primitive of ways.

When I am at a loss for words, I need to remind myself of the Holy Spirit's continued indwelling presence and one of His reasons for it.  If I become so weak with despair, grief, or anger and can only moan over the grievances of men, my pleas won't stop at the ceiling.  He will swiftly carry them to the throne of God, express them in the heavenly language, and intercede on my or others' behalf.

"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose." ~ Romans 8:26-28

Knowing and believing that the Holy Spirit is there to speak for me when I cannot is enough.  And it is comforting.  It is a precious reminder that even my unformed words that are battering my heart, when expressed in "groanings," are heard and carried to God's inclined and willing ear. 

So, if the things you see, read, or experience are just too deep for words, don't feel troubled over your inability to eloquently express yourself in prayer.   Sometimes it only takes one word.  But if you are unable to form even a single word, the groan that rises from your heart and escapes your lips is also sufficient and carries with it all that is necessary to be understood.

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