Day 7 – August 14, 2021 – Samuel Ellington
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 groaning too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
I don’t know if today’s devotion will speak to everyone because I’m not sure if everyone is accustomed to what it is I’m talking about or even what to call it. Some say it’s sadness, but that doesn’t quite cover it. Heartache is a little closer. The skeptics call it mental illness—I guess that’s not far from the truth. One of the best ways I’ve heard it described is in a poem entitled The Thing Is, by Ellen Bass. She writes:
“When grief sits with you, it’s tropical heat thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs…”
The grief described in these brief lines is how I imagine the situation of Romans 8:26–despair so profound that not even the most well-crafted words can soften its blow. Then God’s Spirit of Holiness comes along “with groaning too deep for words.”
I can’t help but hypothesize, though, that if words could even come close to these Groanings of the Spirit, they might sound something like this:
“It’s time to forgive.”
Forgiveness? Isn’t this passage about contentment?
That’s the thing… choosing to be content is so difficult because contentment is, at its heart, forgiveness. Choosing to be content is forgiving your body for not looking the way you’d like, forgiving your job for not making you a millionaire, forgiving your life for not being what you dreamed it would be when you were a child. Contentment is not stagnation; it is not synonymous with “giving up.” Contentment is exactly what is written in the final stanza of Ellen Bass’ poem:
“Then you hold life like a face between your palms, a plain face, no charming smile, no violet eyes, and you say, yes, I will take you, I will love you, again.”
Lord, help me to forgive my eyes for failing me. Help me to forgive You for not conforming to my own plans and ambitions. Help me to forgive my life for not being pink and rosy and glittery. Help me to forgive my life for being real.