The Suffering Of The Holy Spirit

The Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
–Romans 8:26

In Romans 8, Paul described not only a suffering of creation and even of Christians, but he also described a suffering experienced by the Holy Spirit. Paul said, “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27).

Notice who does the groaning in this verse–it is not us. It is the Holy Spirit. Not only that, it is a groaning that is so deep it cannot be expressed in words. I believe Paul was saying that one of the limitations of being in our present bodies and possessing our limited understanding is sometimes we do not know how to pray. Maybe, like me, you have been so weighed down by something that you fall on your face before God and say, “God, I am so tired and filled with fear that I do not even know how to pray right now.” When that happens, Paul says, you have a friend, a helper, the Holy Spirit, who comes alongside you and prays for you to the Father. Romans 8:27 says that God “knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are one. They have a special language with each other, They have the same purpose and the same mind, and They pray and talk to each other on our behalf. Regardless of what suffering you are going through, you have a friend who comes alongside you and prays for you.

Think of it this way: Let’s imagine on Sunday at the end of the worship service, I decide I need to move my pulpit off the stage. So I start straining and trying to lift the heavy pulpit. Finally, I start to move the thing and get it going. Then a friend of mine walks by. He looks at me and says, “Pastor, that pulpit sure looks heavy. I wonder why they make pulpits so heavy. Pastor, do you think we ought to think about getting a Plexiglas pulpit? If we had a Plexiglas pulpit, it sure would be easier for you to move.” And on and on and on he goes. What do you think would be going through my mind while my friend is talking? The first thing I would want to say is inexpressible. But then I would say to him, “Instead of talking, help me with this podium.” I do not want to hear a lecture from him. I do not want to hear what I ought to be doing. I want him to get underneath the weight that I am carrying and help me. I do not want him to walk by with his hand on the podium; I want him to get underneath it. Only when I hear him grunting and groaning, like I am, will I know that my friend is really sharing the burden with me. It is the same way with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not just come alongside us when we are going through suffering; He bears the weight with us. He prays for us in ways we cannot even begin to understand. That was what Paul was talking about when he described in Romans 8:26-27 the groaning of the Holy Spirit of God.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “From Hurts to Hallelujahs” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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