Romans 8:26 – In the same way, 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. (NIV)
December 1992 — my father died — a charter member of St. Luke's Presbyterian Church in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, an elder, a Sunday School superintendent, and a great dad. In the last couple years of his life, his disease (akin to Lou Gehrig's Disease) left him without speech and mobility. He could not walk or talk or look after himself, and yet his brown eyes sparkled when we were in his presence. For Christmas in 1991, I bought dad a small desk calendar with daily Scripture verses. Each day my mom would read the verse to him. This calendar became an inspiration to all of us as we journeyed through a tough year. In December 1992, his battle was over. Leaving the hospital in grief, we returned to mom and dad's apartment. And in my state of sadness, I rushed over to the calendar to see what message was there for us. The calendar read:
- December 13, 1992
Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth;
burst into song, O mountains!
For the Lord comforts his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.
- Isaiah 49:13
God knew what we needed. The heavens rejoiced and the earth burst into song — dad's suffering was over. God has compassion on His afflicted ones. For some this Christmas, it will not be a time of joy and merriment. It will be a time of grief and sorrow. In those intense moments of grief and sorrow when the words are hard to find, be assured that God knows what we need. God knows the words of our hearts before we even speak them. We are not alone.
Prayer: God of mercy and compassion, You know our deepest sighs and speak to us in ways we cannot imagine. Uphold those who mourn this day, and walk with them in their times of sorrow. For You comfort Your people and have compassion on Your afflicted ones. Amen.