A Wonderful Future
18 I am sure what we are suffering now cannot compare with the glory that will be shown to us. 19In fact, all creation is eagerly waiting for God to show who his children are. 20 Meanwhile, creation is confused, but not because it wants to be confused. God made it this way in the hope 21that creation would be set free from decay and would share in the glorious freedom of his children. 22We know that all creation is still groaning and is in pain, like a woman about to give birth.
23 The Spirit makes us sure about what we will be in the future. But now we groan silently, while we wait for God to show that we are his children. This means that our bodies will also be set free. 24And this hope is what saves us. But if we already have what we hope for, there is no need to keep on hoping. 25However, we hope for something we have not yet seen, and we patiently wait for it.
26In certain ways we are weak, but the Spirit is here to help us. For example, when we don't know what to pray for, the Spirit prays for us in ways that cannot be put into words. 27 All of our thoughts are known to God. He can understand what is in the mind of the Spirit, as the Spirit prays for God's people.
When I was a child my parents took me to visit their homeland of Jamaica. There I witnessed a way of life quite foreign to what I had been accustomed, growing up in Canada. Many impoverished people, some young, some old, walking around town carrying what looked to me like very heavy loads: large baskets of food and produce; huge canisters of water; big bundles of clothing. Because of their circumstances they were stuck: forced to carry heavy burdens in order to get through life.
While we in the West appear carefree, Paul tells us that we are deeply burdened. The sin of Adam and Eve has saddled the universe with a load so heavy that creation itself longs for it to come to an end (vv 19-22). Our bodies are full of evidence of the burden of sin: physical and mental illnesses, social disorders; the aches pains that comes from aging; inner temptations.
Yet Paul describes someone else who groans – the Holy Spirit: “the Spirit is here to help us. For example, when we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit prays for us in ways that cannot be put into words” (v 26). Our “weakness” keeps us from experiencing more of God’s glory and even prevents us from even praying effectively. But we never have to go it alone. God the Holy Spirit is our burden bearer. He doesn’t remove the load, he enables us to carry it. And the Spirit empowers our prayers. We can’t see the intercession that takes place deep within our hearts, but he is there, enabling Christians to pray prayers that align with God’s will, knowing that whatever we ask according to his will we receive from him (compare 1 John 5:14-15).
Whenever we sense our burdens, then, God is reminding us to lean on him to help us carry them on our upward journey towards Christ-likeness; a path we travel through prayer.
Heavenly Father, Thank you so much that you have given me yourself, the Holy Spirit, to empower me in my daily life. Help me by your Spirit to carry these burdens well, and to be led by him as I lean into you and pray my way through life. Amen.