“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:26-28, NLT).
We often try to comfort someone who is suffering or grieving by quoting a phrase in vs. 28: “all things work together for good.” In the middle of tragic circumstances these words may provide little consolation to the one who is hurting. And the sentiment may even seem to trivialize one’s loss or grief (It’s almost like saying be happy because this bad thing happened to you.)
While at some cosmic level the theology is correct. All things do work together for God’s good purposes. But, people in distress aren’t looking at the big picture. They are only feeling their pain. (Maybe a better approach would be to reassure hurting people that God understands their pain and His love can strengthen and sustain them through their suffering.)
When we interpret Romans 8:28 within its proper context, these verses actually explain the results of the Spirit’s work in us or upon us, especially in our weaknesses.
The work of the indwelling Holy Spirit is to appropriate spiritual life, God’s life, to God’s people. (From a trinitarian perspective, Jesus represents the concerns of humanity to God the Father and the Holy Spirit represents the concerns of God the Father to humanity.)
In other words, the Holy Spirit works in us to bring a divine symmetry to our lives. The Spirit brings us into harmony with God’s will.
One way the Holy Spirit does this is by praying for us with groanings or utterances that are “too deep for words” (ESV) because they are expressed by our spirit through the indwelling the Holy Spirit. Some people call this a prayer language.
When we do not know how to pray because of our human weakness, the Holy Spirit intercedes to God the Father in our behalf. As God’s Spirit intercedes to bring our lives “in sync” with God’s will, then we are assured that God’s good purposes are being worked out through all the good or bad circumstances of our lives.
So, the Holy Spirit imparts divine symmetry to our lives!
“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” (Ephesians 6:18, NLT).