I think about Nanny, how she could no longer form words, how she would groan and mumble, and how her eyes would dart and stare and narrow. After she had to move to the nursing home, my grandfather would go and spend every day with her. I would go visit, and he would talk and talk. Then she would groan. "What is it 'Ree?" he would ask. "Oh, I am supposed to be rubbing your sore foot." Her eyes would flash. "I know you are still mad about that, but it's what you needed and you'll forgive me later." A moan would roll out. "You're right. It is time for dinner; I will check on it." Her eyes would squint. "I know you don't like it much, but you need to eat some more."
These stories came back to my mind this week as I was reading Scripture:
"And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies... 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 groanings 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" (Romans 8:23 & 26-27). "For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened--not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life" (2 Corinthians 5:2-4).
We groan in our weakness. We feel the weakness of our bodies: the pull of sin, the exhaustion, our inabilities; the weakness of our voices, unable to say what we mean or to even speak what we feel; the weakness of our minds to even know what to present as our needs to our loving Father. We are weak, so we groan. There is a groan from deep within, and it is so needy. The Spirit hears that groan within us, and in compassion He knows us. Just like my grandfather was listening for the wordless communications of my grandmother, the Spirit is listening, understanding, and even acting in greater knowledge than that of our hearts. He takes our groan of weakness and translates it into a groan of intercession before the throne of God. We give a weak communication of our desperate state. He takes His intimate knowledge of us and translates this into an intimate communication with Almighty God, seated on His throne over all creation. And what will God do with all this groaning? He will use it to work all things to our good (Romans 8:28) and, ultimately, to take what is weakly mortal and swallow it up with life (our new, heavenly bodies, prepared for us by Him)! We are cared for in our weakness by the One who knows and understands us and will overcome our weakness with life. We are intimately known by such a loving God!