by Maria Rudolph
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The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans (Romans 8:26).
After the birth of my first child, I was pretty pleased with myself for birthing rather quietly – or so I thought. I was assured by my amused husband, however, that I had been anything but quiet! So, by the time I was in labour with my second child, I paid particular attention to my own noise level. I was stunned as I became aware I was making sounds I’d never previously heard anyone make.
Such is the intensity of childbirth. You might have your own story about labour pains. Whether you were going through them yourself, having your hand almost squeezed off at the wrist because of them or whether you are rolling your eyes and squirm at the mere mention of them. You don’t have to be an expert on giving birth to understand the intensity of labour pains.
We are all birthing something in our lives at various times. Your life in Christ is not free from pain and downright agony. Jesus hasn’t made that a secret. He says, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me’ (Luke 9:23). If you believe walking with Jesus is easy, you are like the woman who thinks she can give birth quietly.
So, when we are going through the pain, is the Holy Spirit the epidural or the midwife? Does he numb the pain or help us give birth to something new? The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of life, the Spirit of Jesus.
Paul reminds us today that he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for us under God’s will. The Holy Spirit helps us birth Jesus in our lives again and again. We become a new creation again daily as we shed the old Adam and put on Christ. Putting on Christ and following him isn’t something we manage alone.
We are reminded in John’s Gospel that Jesus prays for our protection (John 17:11,15). And we are assured that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us also. And does it surprise you that this causes agony for the Holy Spirit as he groans in ways words cannot express? In our own weakness and agony to follow God’s will, it is God, the Holy Spirit himself, who experiences pain in his constant intercession for us. We do not have a distant God who remains impersonal. Our God knows and cares for you. He is for you, as Paul reminds us in Romans (8:31), and if God is for us, who can be against us? In fact, Paul concludes, there is nothing in all creation that will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39).
Holy Spirit, come; fill me anew this day. Thank you for constantly interceding for me to remain in Christ. Help me cling to Jesus and follow him wherever he takes me as you reveal the path ahead. Give me the courage to step out in faith again and again as you birth new things in my life and your church, to the glory of God. Give me your strength to deny myself, take up my cross daily, and follow you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.