“Blood is blue.”
“The whole world gets along.”
“An expensive education is sure to make you wildly successful.”
“Your new smartphone won’t seem outdated next year when the new one comes out.”
“The Browns won again!”
“Real men don’t cry.”
We’ve all said things that aren’t true. I had a teacher in elementary school that told us some whoppers and most of us believed him. None of his tales made the list above but these are things that most of us have heard, and even said, at one time or another. He would always say “Grown men don’t cry!” He’d been in Vietnam and pity wasn’t a brush he liked to paint with. If real men don’t cry then I need to be in a different category. I’m a sensitive dude that can shed a tear over a good memory, a movie, a well-written letter, or even a football game!
This week had an awful start when the news broke about the mass murder in Las Vegas that took the lives of 59 people and injured over 500. On top of all of that, there are thousands of people directly related to the deaths of those that were killed. It’s not like anyone is ever really mentally and physically prepared for something like that. Combat soldiers and cops who train extensively, and are at the height of awareness, are gunned down from others, but they’re trained and prepared for it. These people were sitting ducks. I was physically sick on Monday after watching the many reports and videos of the tragedy. I had no stake in this but our nation’s psychological security was rocked on a deep and personal level.
The next example might seem petty, but the death of Tom Petty on the day after the Las Vegas tragedy moved me to tears as well. His music filled the soundtrack of my young life and many others. “Free Fallin'” is played with reverie every time I hear it. Tom’s death and the Las Vegas shooting are two completely different things, but both produced a collective groan from the people.
I remember one of the worst weekends that I’ve had to date was the day our good friends moved away. They’d moved to Ohio from Arizona to help us plant a church just three Memorial Day weekends prior, and their last stop was our driveway. Three years of laughter, inside jokes, confidential information, our kids clocking in at 2 million on the trampoline springs sqeak-o-meter, disagreements, reconciliation, followed by even more laughter, came to a reverent silence while watching the taillights on their moving truck fade.
Friendship would have been an understatement. It was one of the best friendships that I’d ever experienced. After they left I came into the kitchen where my wife had already started crying and I simply groaned. She didn’t have to ask me what was wrong and she simply said “I love you”, and we had a good cry together.
Some cry so hard that words get replaced with groans that say all that needs to be said.
The Amplified Bible gets this idea right when explaining how God prays for us when we’re in need. “So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groans too deep for utterance.” Romans 8:26-27
God the Holy Spirit prays in groans that render speech incomprehensible as He prays on behalf of those that belong to Him. There is no shorthand. No divine sticky notes. Just groans. Groans come from a deep place. Words are unnecessary in a community that is as close as the Trinity. They’ve been communicating with each other forever in eternity past and will continue to do so.
The Holy Spirit knows the mind and the will of God and prays in harmony according to it. He is in essence a form of legal council on the bench searching the will of God as He tries to find a favorable answer. He knows, and continually searches, the height, depth, width, and breadth of God’s great love like a skilled and knowledgeable attorney fighting on behalf of those He represents. He will retrieve something from the great depths of God’s will to sustain the weary and often breakable human heart.
Groans come from a heart truly broken. Our groans also come from a deep place from inside of us. You can’t fake it or mistake it. Just like us, God’s heart can be broken as well. He allows His heart to be continually broken over His children.
Imagine your next groan meeting the cavernous echo reverberating off of the walls of the deep well of God’s heart in groans too deep for words. That is the Holy Spirit praying on your behalf in harmony with God’s good and perfect will.