Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to teach the Bible to many people around the world. Because I can speak only English, I often work with interpreters who can take the words of my heart and translate them into the language of the people. Effective communication is directly dependent upon the skill of these translators. Whether it is Inawaty in Indonesia, Annie in Malaysia, or Jean in Brazil, they ensure that the meaning of my words is clearly expressed.
This work of translation resembles one facet of the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of God’s people. In our times of prayer, we don’t always know how we should pray (Rom. 8:26), and verse 27 encourages us, saying, “Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” When we go to our heavenly Father in prayer, the Holy Spirit comes to our aid by translating our prayers according to God’s good purposes for our lives.
What a provision! Not only does God desire for us to share our hearts with Him, He even provides us with the greatest interpreter to help us as we pray. We can be sure that our prayers will never get lost in translation.
Thank You, Father, for the provision of Your Spirit. I’m grateful that when I pray I can rest in Your help to make my prayers what they need to be. Teach me to lean on His perfect understanding of Your desires.
The participation of the Spirit assures that my prayers line up with God’s purposes.
Today’s passage is filled with hope and comfort. Though Paul describes the deep suffering and groaning of both humanity and creation, his emphasis is on the nearness of our God and His affectionate care for His creation. Paul encourages readers in Rome—and us—with the thought that God knows us so well that His Spirit prays for us, translating our weak words into prayers according to the will of the Father (vv.26-27).
One of the early games that many parents play with their children involves a fake scare. Dad hides his face behind his hands and suddenly reveals himself while saying, “Boo!” The child giggles at this silliness.
Being frightened is a fun game until the day when the child experiences a real scare. Then it’s no laughing matter. The first real scare often involves separation from a parent. The child wanders away innocently, moving from one attraction to another. But as soon as she realizes she is lost, she panics and lets out a loud cry of alarm. The parent immediately comes running to reassure the child that she is not alone.
As we get older, our fake scares become sophisticated—scary books, movies, amusement park rides. Being scared is so invigorating that we may begin taking bigger risks for bigger thrills.
But when a real scare comes, we may realize that we, like the ancient Israelites (Isa. 30), have wandered from the One who loves and cares for us. Recognizing that we are in danger, we panic. Our call for help does not require sophisticated words or a well-reasoned defense, just a desperate cry.
Like a loving parent, God responds quickly for He longs to have us live in the protection of His love where we need never be afraid.
In Isaiah’s prophecy in today’s text, we see the great heart of patience our God has toward us even in our worst moments (see 2 Peter 3:15). In verse 18, Isaiah says that the Lord waits “that He may be gracious” to those who fail. His exalted position is one from which He exercises mercy on our behalf. Isaiah issues the challenge that we also are to wait upon Him, for He alone can bring justice into our broken world.
A friend once spent a day installing large stone steps in his backyard. When his 5-year-old daughter begged to help, he suggested she just sing to encourage him in his work. She said no. She wanted to help. Carefully, when it would not endanger her, he let her place her hands on the rocks as he moved them.
He could have built the steps in less time without her. At the end of the day, though, he not only had new steps but also a daughter bursting with pride. “Me and Dad made steps,” she announced at dinner that night.
From the beginning, God has relied on people to advance His work. After equipping Adam to cultivate the land and supervise the animals, God left the work of the garden in his hands (Gen. 2:15-20).
The pattern has continued. When God wanted a dwelling place on earth, a tabernacle and temple did not descend from the sky; thousands of artists and craftsmen worked to fashion them (Ex. 35–38; 1 Kings 6). When Jesus proclaimed the new reign of God’s kingdom on earth, He invited human beings to help. He told His disciples, “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matt. 9:38).
As a father does with his children, so does God welcome us as His kingdom partners.
Heavenly Father, thank You that in Your love and wisdom, You invite us to accomplish Your acts of love, service, and kindness here on earth. Thank You for the privilege of “helping” You.
God uses humble servants to accomplish His great work.
As we read in today’s text Jesus’ response to the multitudes, we see three distinct elements to that response. First of all, Jesus saw something. He saw the crowds of people “weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (Matt. 9:36). Additionally, He felt something because, as verse 36 tells us, He was “moved with compassion for them.” Finally, the Master did something by calling for laborers to join in the work with Him (v.38). Christ’s example gives us a powerful model for engaging people with the heart of Christ.