Years ago, a friend of mine decided to learn sign language so she could communicate with a lady at church who is deaf. She not only did that, but now has made a career of bridging communication barriers. She helps those with hearing impairment “hear” what’s happening, but maybe more importantly, she helps other people understand them. People who are deaf often don’t have the verbal words to express themselves. So as an interpreter, she helps take their thoughts and feelings to the receiver.
The Holy Spirit has been working similarly in my heart throughout the last couple of years. Like my friend, He has interceded in my prayers when I was literally out of words. Knowing that my heart was being communicated to the Father was a gift I’ll always cherish. Especially those darkest of days when a sense of abandonment put a boulder in my throat, leaving me barely able to breathe, much less pray. When I was mad at God, I literally couldn’t pray. One journal entry was just enumerating the things God had taken from me, or things I thought I was going to miss:
Lots of tests and numbers are being thrown at us. Bottom line: I have a very, very poor chance of being alive in 6 months. I immediately think of my daughter, just starting her senior year in high school. I want to see her graduate. My son will also be graduating from college at the same time. My older daughter is getting serious with a really great guy and I want to be more than an empty chair at the wedding. But I am in bad shape.
My heart knew God was there, but my mind couldn’t reconcile that if He was there how I ended up here, in heart failure. So for months, I gave God the silent treatment. As if to punish Him for doing me this way. That will teach Him, I subconsciously thought.
I had reached a crossroads, where I could take this life event and let it flatten my faith or let it build it. I’m not sure that on my own, my faith would have grown. But the Holy Spirit had another idea. And He used my prayer warriors and the deep longings of my heart to carry it out. That spooky Holy Spirit would not give up. He conveyed my true convictions to the Father and carried me through.
After more than a year with no improvement, my heart was telling me to hang on to what I knew. From my journal:
I keep reminding myself that I do know His ways are so much higher than mine and that His plans are always good. That in itself is slightly comforting, I must admit. Even though He has been silent on the improvement front, I still choose to believe that He hears me and sees me and knows my pain. And I believe that Jesus is hurting with me through this uncertainty and that the Holy Spirit is taking my short, distracted, sometimes frustrated prayers to God. In a much more praise-worthy form than I can manage right now.
Like a grade school boy needing a recess messenger to his would-be girlfriend, we are sometimes reluctant or unable to approach God on our own behalf. But the Holy Spirit is in the business of getting the message through. Even when, especially when, we feel like we can’t speak for ourselves.
My interpreter friend has also been a faith hero of mine for over twenty years. She has been a prayer warrior and a constant encourager. Her life has not been perfect, either. Despite her own hurting, she has spoken life into me when I needed it most. She even understands when I have no words. She would definitely understand what I’m trying to say now. And, more importantly, I know the Holy Spirit understands us both.