Have you ever looked back at your prayer life and come to the realization, “I’m so glad that God didn’t answer my prayers the way that I wanted”? As early as I can remember, I found my identity in music – directing choirs, coordinating productions, coaching and teaching vocal students, and performing solo. If you had asked me who I was, the word “musician” probably would have been in the first sentence. Then God slowly pulled me away, kicking and screaming, from that world. It was my season of groanings.
GOD WAS SHUTTING THE DOORS
Yes, I knew Jesus as Savior but I had no idea how I still fit into God’s plan. I felt robbed by God. About 1/3 of my singing voice had departed due to overuse. Due to arthritis, a lot of my instrumental skills were out the door. With my eye issues, I even had trouble reading straight across a musical page. What a mess! No matter how I prayed, God was shutting doors. It was not pretty.
HOW DOES THE SPIRIT PRAY FOR US
While I was groaning about this, God was patient. I had fast lost patience with Him, but He still loved me, even though it took so long for my groaning to become God-centered instead of me-centered. John Piper writes regarding Romans 8:18-27: How does the Spirit pray for us, is that He moves powerfully in our hearts to create groanings – His groanings experienced as our groanings – which are based on two things: 1) a deep desire and ache of heart that Christ be magnified in our lives, and 2) a weakness that leaves us baffled and unknowing as to how this is going to happen or should happen. So we are not sure how we are to pray, but we are sure that we want Christ to be magnified in our bodies.
GOD’S SPIRIT FOR US AND NOT AGAINST US
The Father searches our heart and he hears this groaning. He hears the Christ-exalting yearning in it, and He hears the Spirit’s clear intention that certain decisions and circumstances come about in the exact way that will bring the most glory to Jesus. One of the reasons this matters so much is that it means that in the very moment of some of our deepest frustrations, our groanings are the very work of God’s Spirit FOR us and not against us.
MY GROANS WERE NOT HIS GROANS
Daily, during that time, I commuted to work in tears because I deeply missed both music and the classroom. The Holy Spirit heard a whole of groaning coming from me while I was making the drive to work. God was not heartless. God was not deaf. However, my heart didn’t really want to hear God’s plan. My heart was deaf. I wanted the familiar; not the unknown. My groans were not His groans.
BECAUSE OF THE DOORS GOD SHUT
I’m so glad that He stuck with me as my Abba Father. I could never have imagined the life I have today because of the doors God shut. God has opened an entire new world for me in knowing Him better. He has given me huge opportunities in writing. I even have the privilege to coach others in writing, seeing them grow into far better writers than I will ever be. One of my greatest joys is that I also get to work as a shepherd, helping to draw women closer to knowing the Good Shepherd. God has given me a front row seat in seeing His hand mend lives in ways I could have never imagined.
GROANINGS FOR THE GLORY OF CHRIST
I wish someone would have told me these words of wisdom: experience the wordless groanings of your heart as groanings for the glory of Christ. And trust the Spirit of God to intercede for you about the specifics. Trust Him, that because He is praying for you, your Father will bring about decisions and circumstances that will magnify Christ in the best way – in the very midst of your ignorance and groaning.
FOR US AND NOT AGAINST US
I am strong willed, thick headed, and often dumb as a doornail, however God has plans that exceed anything we could even imagine. Would I want to repeat the seasons of intense pain? No! However, they have been necessary for God to bring me into this new season, the best season of all. I just had to realize that in the very moment of some of our deepest frustrations, our groanings are the very work of God’s Spirit FOR us and not against us.