the waiting

I want to be vulnerable with you about a place of spiritual poverty in my life. The place where I am most often dropping to my knees in prayer, relying on Christ’s strength to intervene.

Five years ago, I prayed a 54 day novena for my future husband. I wrote out the intentions and felt convicted that this commitment would bring a lifelong prayer to fruition through an act of faith over the 54 days.

It’s been five years, and I am still praying.

I didn’t think I would need to repeat the process, especially not for five (plus?) years. If I had known that when I began, I never would have started.

In a couple of weeks, I will begin again.

***Insert deep sigh***

Yesterday’s first reading (Romans 4:13, 16-18) about Abraham struck me as I was reminded of the phrase “hope against hope.” God made a promise to Abraham that his descendants would be as many as the stars in the sky and the sand on the shore. In light of Abraham and Sarah’s infertility, Abraham chose to believe that God would be faithful to his promise by providing him with a son.

Abraham hoped against hope. He believed in what he could not see.

There are many days that I desire Abraham’s faith. The truth is, every moment of faith I experience when it comes to trusting in God’s timing and his goodness regarding the fulfillment of my vocation is all grace. I know it’s not on my own accord.

When I am willing to admit my spiritual poverty, Jesus pours out his grace by sending his Spirit to join in my longing and point my heart and mind toward the deepest longing of my soul, heaven.

That’s the goodness of our God. He transforms my spiritual poverty into a channel of grace. It’s in the very place where I struggle most to trust him where I cling to his every word.

And the Spirit groans with me.

St. Paul writes this in his letter to the Romans,

“creation waits in eager expectation … we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. … the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” - Romans 8:19, 23, 26

Can we take a moment to appreciate St. Paul’s transparency here?

He admits to groaning inwardly, waiting eagerly, and acknowledges his own weakness. And even more, he confesses that he doesn’t know what to pray for! He’s aware of humanity’s ache of what is to come.

What are you waiting for and don’t know how to pray for?

Are you waiting for fertility?

Physical/mental/spiritual healing for you or a loved one?

Conversion of a family member or friend?

The fulfillment of your vocation?

Relief from financial hardship?

Community to overcome loneliness?

Restoration of your marriage?

Reconciliation in a broken friendship?

These places, and any other area of “not yet” in your life, is where the Holy Spirit is groaning with you.

You are not alone in the waiting.

The Holy Spirit enters in to feel the weight of your desire, and he intercedes for you. He takes your request to the throne of grace. He does this in love for you. In doing so, his healing balm transforms an attitude of frustration and bitterness into a renewed hope.

It’s in this intimacy with the Spirit that I am reminded that the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives within me (Rom. 8:11).

I rise in faith with joyful anticipation of what is not yet, but is to come.

And I choose to praise our God who has never forgotten me or failed me. I praise his name in the midst of an unsatisfied desire because he is good, and his name is worthy of all my praise.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” - Romans 8:28