“Like a swallow, like a crane, so I twitter; I moan like a dove; My eyes look wistfully to the heights; O Lord, I am oppressed, be my security.” Isaiah 38:14 (NASB)
There are times in our lives that our hearts ache for many reasons. The words in this verse were recorded by the prophet Isaiah but were the words of the King of Judah, King Hezekiah. The King Hezekiah had been told to set his house in order because he was about to die. But he knew he could appeal to God. God heard and added fifteen years after he recovered from a very serious illness. There are times in our lives when our hearts are troubled by our circumstances. Our problems may not be as serious as King Hezekiah who had expected to die from his illness but sometimes they actually are that heavy on our hearts. However that might be we can turn to God. We can say and cry out as the King did, “I am being threatened; Lord, come to my aid.” Yes, friends, whatever it is that might cause turmoil of our minds and our hearts, we can turn to God for help. And as He helped the King of Judah, he will help us too according to His will as we rely on Him.
“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.” Romans 8:26 (ESV)
Our verse is in a context that makes known the creation* and believers* both groan for ultimate restoration, the Holy Spirit does as well. One of the last promises Jesus made to His disciples was that he would send a helper and fulfilled it through the Holy Spirit sent from God our Father. The groanings too deep for words is communication within the Trinity that cannot be expressed in words. It is the Holy Spirit that works with our Lord Jesus in His high priestly work of intercession. All on our behalf for all who have believed in Jesus as their Savior, have the Holy Spirit in their lives. The Holy Spirit is helping us to pray by praying with us to our Heavenly Father. To start with, we really don’t know in ourselves how we should pray. God promises that if we ask the Holy Spirit to guide us He will impress on our hearts what things to pray for and even how to pray. As we pray we can trust the Spirit to pray with us and we can depend
* For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:22-23
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
Weakness is bad, right? None of us seek to be seen as weak even if we are weak. These words were written as a testimony by the Apostle Paul. Paul tells of a prayer he had earnestly prayed three times asking God to remove a problem that he called “a thorn in the flesh.” We do not know just what it was while many who also do not know speculate with assumptions. What we do know is that God knows what is best for us and everything that He does for us is for our best even when it is not what we asked for. God knew what was best for the Apostle Paul. God also knew the perfect solution for his problem. Paul acknowledged his weakness; it had a purpose – to glorify God. Paul learned to even boast of his weaknesses. If we are true children of God we will want more than anything else, that God’s name will be glorified. We want to realize that His power is perfect and all that he does is perfect. When God does not do just what we ask of Him, He always gives us the grace and power to overcome.
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15 (NASB)
We believe Christ’s ministry as our eternal high priest is worth understanding. The first time in the Bible that we read about the function of a priest is Genesis 14. He was a priest of God Most High and he went out to meet Abraham. This was the priest Melchizedek, King of Salem. His name means “king of righteousness” which suggest that he was a righteous ruler who was God’s representative. Melchizedek was the only one of two kings meeting Abraham that Abraham accepted as his spiritual superior and he was a prototypical for Christ Himself, Melchizedek was both a king and a priest blessing and receiving tithes from Abraham. His priesthood, like Christ’s is uninterrupted by succession. There are no successors to Christ to be our high priest. Knowing this, we can trust His ministry to be genuine and eternal. As our High Priest, Jesus was His own perfect sinless sacrifice to God the Father on our behalf and His sacrifice made propitiation for our sins and satisfied the debt. Jesus knows what temptation is by His own experience because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:18)
“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NASB)
Context is important all the time an especially for our verst today. It comes in the midst of Paul’s defense of his apostleship to the believers in Corinth. Such is our promise today. This is God’s universal purpose for all the suffering Christians have in life. Suffering develops our trust and contentment in God as we learn to have less dependence on ourselves and the ways of this world. Paul stresses for us, that in our sufferings we find the glory of Christ’s all-sufficient grace magnified. God repeats for us each time, what He said to Paul in answer to the request to remove the thorn of suffering he was experiencing, “My grace is sufficient for you.” It is sufficient and beneficial because the power of Christ is given to us to overcome suffering. And that power is made perfect when we need it most – when our weaknesses are most exposed. So suffering is intended by God not only as a way to wean us off of self and onto grace, but also as a way to spotlight that grace and make it shine. That is exactly what faith does: it magnifies Christ’s grace in the future.
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