One of my favorite Scriptures has the Holy Spirit interceding “with *sighs too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26b NRSV). The passage has been helpful when I realize that I don’t always know who or what to pray about. I also feel sad about the state of the world, and the difficulties and terrors so many people are facing at this very moment.
I’m not sad about myself—I’m grateful to be alive, finding purpose and meaning among all the blessings God provides. What seeps into my soul instead is mourning for others—perhaps one way I can come alongside them in spirit? When I hear about homeless refugees from war, dupes of grifter politicians, good folks being targeted because of the color of their skin, casualties from natural disasters or innocent victims of gun violence—when I see these things a wave of quiet sadness settles over me.
I grieve for others because there may not be much that I can do to rescue them from their situations. (Yes, there’s always something I can do, but those efforts seem small in comparison to the size of the problems they’re facing.) And when I’ve done all that I can do, their troubles will remain. My prayers fumble to find words.
Some of this feeling may come from being older. Over and over again, I’ve seen recurring cycles of poverty and hate, worked hard to bring justice to bear, and contributed to what I hope are long-term solutions to the world’s degrading problems. Could it be that I’ve grown tired of the struggle?
Or perhaps I’ve come to the point in life where I still meet the Spirit, wafting into my life with sad sighs, translating my word-deficient emotions into God’s languages of fairness or hope.
Sadness somewhat softened, I continue to pray….
*The King James Version uses “groaning” here, which seems stronger and perhaps more accurate about my state of mind.
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