26 In the same way, the Spirit comes to help our weakness. We don’t know what we should pray, but the Spirit himself pleads our case with unexpressed groans. 27 The one who searches hearts knows how the Spirit thinks, because he pleads for the saints, consistent with God’s will.
Another day, another mass shooting. This one in an elementary school. It’s the 27th school shooting this year.
So many times, I struggle to pray because I am just so ANGRY. I just can’t find the words, because I don’t understand this. I don’t understand how we can just accept this kind of violence as something that can’t be helped. I don’t understand how we can just dismiss the deaths of dozens of people in just two weeks – children and the elderly, no less – as the price we have to pay for “freedom.”
I don’t have words, despite having the luxury of distance that allows me to be angry in an abstract kind of way. After all, I am not a parent who just lost his child to this senseless act of murder. I’m not a neighbor or teacher or pastor in the community. But for those directly affected, this is no abstraction. It’s a loss that can never be recovered: a whole collection of hopes and dreams that will never be realized. It’s a tear in the fabric of a community.
When we face tragedy, the words to pray often don’t come because the pain is simply too overwhelming. Sometimes, the depth of our grief is only revealed after the shock and numbness begin to wear off. In those cases, the words to pray often aren’t available to us for a long time. Sometimes, the only thing we can do is rage and ask, “why?”
It’s during these times when I turn to Romans 8. I turn there not because it has answers. I turn there because it has promises that give me hope. Among those promises is this one: that even when we don’t have the words to pray, God still hears us. God hears the pain in the depths of our hearts.
And even when that pain is all we have to offer God, we are assured that God hears it, that God accepts it, and that God understands it. The Spirit is able to take all that we feel – our anger, our pain, our confusion – and turn it into a prayer.
by Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Take some time today to consider what you’re feeling as you process the news about Uvalde. Can you identify the emotions? Are you uncomfortable bringing some of those emotions to God in prayer? Can you trust God to hear everything that you feel?
Prayer: God, we come before you today in grief, anger, and despair. We pray for an end to the violence that seems to grip our nation. We pray that no more parents should ever have to receive such horrific, world-shattering news. Change us, Lord. Make us whole. Make us kind. Make us loving. In the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.