Have you ever played tug of war? In the Midwest there is a great tug of war every summer between Iowa and Illinois. People on the Iowa side line up, pick up this huge rope, and start tugging as the people on the Illinois side do the same. This is a great struggle that takes place across the mighty Mississippi river. I have never actually been to see this tug of war in person, (just watched it on the TV) but it is a great battle to watch between the two states. Each person is struggling and tugging with all their might, hoping for the victory. I find myself in a great tug of war lately, struggling and tugging with all my might, hoping for a victory, but the problem is- I am not sure what I am struggling against.
A lot of things have happened lately, nothing major or life changing, just daily battles that I seem to be coming against. These battles have affected my prayer life. I pray, but yet there just seems to be no substance to my prayers. I talk with God, and read my bible, yet there just seems to be a lot more emptiness than revelation! I asked for prayer yesterday from some lovely sisters of mine in Christ. They all responded that they were praying, but one of them (whom I love very dearly- she is like a mamma to me) responded with Romans 8:26. You know me, I had to go and investigate!
“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered.”
I have read Romans 8:26, studied it, taught it and quoted it a ton of times, but today, it stuck out at me, and I realized that the answer to my dull prayer life was right in front of me. You see, we are all going to go through these periods in our lives when there seems to be a tug of war taking place, but you can’t quite see what you are tugging against, because it is all the way over on the other side of the Mississippi. You see little hints of it, you feel the tugs and the pulls, but you cannot actually see what it is that you are fighting so mightily against.
That is when the Lord showed me a picture of myself, I am struggling with something, a battle that I cannot see (a spiritual battle) but the Holy Spirit, He comes alongside me, picks up the rope and starts to pull with me. He prays for me, He calls out to God my Father for me and helps me. The word “helps” in the passage means “to lay hold along with, to strive to obtain with others, to take hold with at the side for assistance.” My prayers have been empty because the Spirit is alongside me, praying for me, helping me. He is striving alongside me to gain the victory over whatever is attacking me. I cannot see what it is, I can see little glimmers of it here and there from my side of the river, but the Spirit, He sees ahead and knows that He needs to help me gain this victory.
We do not always know what is coming against us, what is going on around us because we see with the eyes of flesh, but the Spirit, He sees with His eyes in the Spirit. There is a whole world that we cannot see, there is a battle being fought around us every day. We are on one side of the river tugging and pulling, while someone or something else is tugging on the other side. Sometimes, when it doesn’t make sense, when things just don’t seem to be right, or you are struggling and don’t know what for- take comfort and hope that the Holy Spirit is right beside you, tugging and pulling with you.
“Now He who searches the heart knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:27) The Holy Spirit is taking the struggles of our hearts and He is bringing them to God our Father for us. He is our play by play announcer. He is giving God our Father every detail, play by play, tug by tug. When we do not know what is going on, all we can see is the tug of war on our side, the Holy Spirit is helping us tug and telling God our Father all about it. God will give us the victory in this tug of war, if we do not lose hope in the work of the Holy Spirit on our behalf.
The Lord God sees our struggles; He knows our weaknesses, our lack of strength, our inability to bear the burdens and trials of daily life. He sees and He gives us His Holy Spirit to tug and to pull with us, so that in the end, we will gain the victory through Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit takes our struggles, our inward, unexplainable struggles and carries them to the Lord God. He goes before God on our behalf. The Lord God knows your heart; He knows what is on the other side. And He gives us hope today that even if we cannot see what we are struggling against, He sees, and He gives us His Holy Spirit to help us, and to come alongside us, to help us win this tug of war.
No matter what side of the Mississippi River you find yourself on today, no matter what struggle, trial, burden or unseen tug of war you find yourself in, take comfort and hope that the Holy Spirit is right there beside you, tugging and struggling to give you the victory God has for you. We just have to keep trusting and fighting with Him. We will all come to a place where everything seems okay, but yet nothing is right either. Don’t lose heart; keep tugging and trusting that the Lord God is on your side, He sees your heart and His Holy Spirit is giving Him a play by play narrative of all that is going on. And when you feel yourself being tugged into the river, call out, the Lord hears you, and He sees you- He will give you the victory in this tug of war!
May the Lord God, our Father of Jesus Christ give you the strength to keep tugging and the hope of His victory, which we have in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. Amen and Amen.