Dear Friend of Olford Ministries International,
Greetings in Jesus’ Name!
I just returned home late last night from a ministry trip. As I write this email, I am reflecting on my time away and the devotional on Job 28 being sent out this week. I think almost everyone wants “wisdom” to handle the difficulties, the trials and the sufferings of this life.
There are many lessons from the Book of Job but certainly a primary lesson is - you gain a better perspective on suffering if you have a better personal knowledge of God Himself. That’s how the Book of Job ends. Unanswered questions remain but Biblical wisdom begins with God’s revelation of Himself. That revelation may not “take the pain away” for us, even though Job experienced a reversal of circumstances. So, what help do we have as we suffer or experience the pains and weaknesses of this life?
One of the messages I delivered while away was based on Romans 8:26-27, the intercessory role of the Holy Spirit. What an amazing and encouraging truth! If I was preaching on these verses I would emphasize 1) The Advocacy, 2) The Intimacy, and 3) The Efficacy of the Holy Spirit’s intercession. These truths are reasons for hope, knowing that God is for us and that He has given us “Help” in the person of the Holy Spirit. Here I want to share some implications of this great truth that relate to our suffering and pain in this world.
The Apostle Paul has already stated earlier in the chapter that we “groan” along with creation as creation awaits its liberation from bondage. We also groan as we await our redeemed bodies (Rom. 8:22-23). In short, the world is not what it should be and we are not what we will be. So, we groan awaiting our redeemed bodies! Notice he doesn’t say “groaning is bad,” he just says, “we groan.” The wonder of it all is that the Holy Spirit’s intercession is described as “with groanings too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26). So, creation groans, we groan and the Holy Spirit groans! It may bother you to see these groanings together, but I think this is one of Paul’s points in this passage.
The Holy Spirit is intimately aware of our groanings and He prays sensitively according to the will of our Heavenly Father. We are not alone crying out to a God who is far away! God has entered our lives and has joined with us in prayer and is interceding for us. We have an “internal intercessor” matched by our Lord’s intercession in Heaven. God is for us!
We do have a wonderful gospel of salvation: past, present, future. Praise the Lord for that! There is Romans 8:28-39! But, these truths don’t automatically “take pain away,” pain that is part of our suffering and weakness - the results one way or another of living as redeemed sinners in a sin-cursed world. We have the vivid example of Christ Himself, who had to endure great sufferings Himself (Hebrews 12:1-3)! Furthermore, as I am emphasizing here, we have the present ministry of the Holy Spirit helping us in our weakness especially in the light of our lack of knowledge concerning prayer. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us.
My application in the light of this great role of the Holy Spirit, is that we need to be willing to come alongside others and groan with them, especially in prayer, as part of our “ministry” to them. I know that is not the emphasis of the text, but it is an extension of the Holy Spirit’s ministry through us to others. I believe that the Holy Spirit can help us minister to others by being sensitive intercessors. This is a great need and ministry!
We certainly rejoice in the wonderful truths that give us stability in faith, and we share those truths confidently and lovingly as we are led by the Lord. At the same time, we need to help others by coming alongside them in their suffering and weakness. Weakness itself is not a negative “thing,” it is our shared “thing,” and we sense it the most when we suffer. If the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness in prayer and in other ways, He can help us come alongside others and as we seek to intercede for them.
In this time of uncertainty, crisis, and confusion in our world, instead of being reactionary, divisive, or selfish, we should seek “Holy Spirit sensitivity” and be willing to intercede for others who are in weakness and need. People’s needs may be spiritual, physical. mental, emotional, or circumstantial or “all of them together.” We need to be the “Body of Christ” filled with the Holy Spirit. As we serve in this way, we share in those sufferings.
I believe that we need much more meaningful prayer for one another, much more willingness to “groan” with others, not without hope of course. I know that I need to grow significantly in this aspect of ministry to others. Yes, the Holy Spirit gives us hope as well and His fruit should be evident in our lives. And yet, we know that we are not what we will be, and the Holy Spirit is here to help us in our weakness in prayer and in other weaknesses.
God graciously can change circumstances. He is a God who hears our prayers and answers according to His good will. Right now, though, we are in a “waiting” period. If you ask for your “redeemed body” today, I don’t think you’ll get it! All suffering in this life is not going to be removed. Our waiting time is a time of suffering and weakness compared to what we will be in His time. There is a glorious future. Let’s remember as the song says, “He’s in the waiting.” He is here to help us intimately with our weakness, especially when it comes to prayer.
May we be people willing to be used by the Holy Spirit to help others. Let’s depend on the Holy Spirit’s intercession. Let’s pray specifically for the sensitivity and wisdom needed to be a source of help and strength to others.
Our intercession for and with others may not take their pain away, but there will be a greater awareness that they are not alone, that God loves them, and that their pain in some measure is understood and shared by others. If you are in a time of suffering right now, I encourage you to let others intercede for you, even as you depend on the Holy Spirit yourself.
I know there may be many other aspects to what you are facing, but a trusted prayer support can be a great help, as well as recognizing that you are not alone, the Holy Spirit is with you and is praying for you. As God wills, He can bring His measure of healing or sufficient grace as Paul experienced, as we all live in this “waiting” period.
This week I have prepared for you a devotional entitled "Wisdom is Out of this World". Click this link to read it.
President ofOlford Ministries International