When groans are all you’ve got

allyouvegotColumn Post by Lisa Easterling

“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 through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”
Rom. 8:26, 27

There are just those moments when I’ve got nothing. No words, no cohesive thoughts, no reasoning ability. Just groans. Moments like these.

I’m glad there’s the Holy Spirit waiting in the wings to speak on my behalf. Seems the Spirit is the only way to make sense of chaos and confusion, misunderstanding and meltdown.

Because words, they just seem empty tonight.

I’ve been trying for a few days to word it without much success. I tried again tonight but all that came out was the hurt. Writing where it hurts isn’t much fun right now. Sometimes writing is like that. We ache, but we keep writing. We write on, knowing the story won’t go away just because we hurt.

And isn’t it the stories that hurt us most that most need telling? The ones we weep over, the ones that punch us in the gut and leave us spitting blood and wondering what just happened? The ones that offer us no other option but to cry out to God?

It’s okay to pray in print. It’s actually rather healing to pour our heart-cries onto the pages of our journals. Where else can we beg like children and scream out the whys and force the ugly questions out through gritted teeth so we can see how we feel?

It’s also okay to write down what you think God is saying in answer. I invite you to try this, perhaps using a different color pen when you feel it’s God responding. I will warn you, though: this can be a little bit unnerving. The first time I did this type of journaling and went back and read it later, I freaked out. I had no recollection of writing the God parts. True story.

It helps to read and re-read the “conversation” between you and God later. It’s amazing how He speaks directly to our hearts through our pens and goes right to the core of what is troubling us. It’s like reading a love-letter from him that I wrote myself but can’t remember writing. To be truthful, it’s a little bit addictive.

Are you up for it? And let me know how it goes, if you don’t mind. I’ve gotten some pretty amazing feedback on this writing exercise from workshop participants. You might just form a habit of journal-keeping and prayer intertwined that is so fulfilling you never want to stop.

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Lisa Easterling is a lifelong resident of the Tampa Bay area alongside her husband Steve, five children, and two grandchildren. A pioneer for home education in Florida, she has served in various areas of Christian women’s, marriage, and family ministry for most of her life. Lisa is a lifelong writer and editor, and has taught life story, poetry, and other creative writing skills in classrooms and workshops for over 25 years. Her writings have appeared in such publications as Homeschool Alliance magazine, Heartbeat the Magazine, The Family Corner, and Home EdVenture. Lisa currently serves as Ministry Director and weekly columnist for Write Where It Hurts, where she enjoys inspiring and equipping women to write through their pain to healing and hope.

As writing coach for So You Want To Write, she loves helping others catch word fever by showing them they truly do possess the ability to write, by providing step by step tools to help them word their stories, and by holding their hand and building into them as a genuine friend along the way.

Lisa blogs at www.lisaeasterling.com and can be reached by following @writepraylove on Twitter or by emailing blue@lisaeasterling.com.
Read more encouraging stories from brave-hearted women here. Be sure to grab your free copy of inspirational quotes and writing prompts while you’re there. (Look over on the right hand side!)

18 thoughts on “When groans are all you’ve got

  1. Lisa, I know exactly what you mean. I still share some stories about times that God spoke to me from 30 years ago. I don’t hear Him this clearly often, although I am sure the Holy Spirit is speaking to my heart on a daily basis. I sense him as a “check” in my spirit, like a way I am thinking, talking, doing, is not ok with him. I have veered off course and I need to turn back to walking with him. But other times, times when I’m in what is to me a crisis, God’s voice will come to me in my thoughts so clearly that I never forget it. I will tell people, “I can tell you where I was, on what street in what city…I could probably take you to the exact spot…and it was twenty years ago! (I want them to get the point that it was God!).” They were the life-long lessons…times when my life did a 180 because of those words. He’s amazing.

    • Isn’t it amazing when He imprints those episodes on our minds and leaves them so indelibly marked? It’s like those memories become living memorial stones we can look back to and REMEMBER His message, His provision, His direction, His deliverance. I love that you so clearly recognize His voice and are so willing to revisit those times and allow them to become a living testimony to His guidance in your life. You inspire me.

  2. I think it’s safe to say I do this already in different writing formats. I am reaching out and speaking to God when I work on my memoir, in my journaling, and often in my blogging. Because so often, the words for other writing just isn’t there. 🙂

    • It’s a rough feeling when you are running dry. I agree, as writers we do NOT like coming up wordless! I love how He delivers us by providing the words in His perfect timing for each purpose as He leads us.

  3. I have had those time of no words, (which is unusual for a communicator), no cohesive thoughts just moans…but I have never done an exercise like the one you just describe. Going to try it! This might seem weird to say, but I am excited to see what the Holy Spirit reveals.
    thank you,
    ~b

    • Bridgit, you have every reason to be excited! I get excited every time I do it. Believe me when I say it NEVER gets old! God’s responses always come through as He speaks right into the spirit. Girl, you have to come back and tell me what you think! 🙂

  4. “And isn’t it the stories that hurt us most that most need telling? The ones we weep over, the ones that punch us in the gut and leave us spitting blood and wondering what just happened? The ones that offer us no other option but to cry out to God?”

    Love this. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I have some issues that are like this right now…where I just feel so burdened and heavy about it all but I can’t seem to put it into words…I want to hear from God but many times I don’t take the time to journal about it. I have though and it is amazing what all comes out when I do…I am taking the challenge today to do it again and see what God gives me. Thanks for making it okay to just groan and allow God to work.

    • Lorene, I am so glad you feel that freedom to truly open up and let God hear the real coming from the depths of your soul. When I was in labor with our children I had a tendency to make almost a humming sound. For some reason when I think of the Holy Spirit interceding for us with groans only God understands I think back on being in labor and how out of control everything feels, how groaning seems the only response. Interesting how the Maker of our bodies understands those groans that issue forth when we have no words. Thank you for taking up the challenge, dear friend. Please do let me know how it goes?

  6. I love the suggestion of using a different-colored ink to record what I feel God is saying to me. In those times of groaning, it is easy for my writing and journaling to become so dark and negative, just a spewing forth of pain. Hearing and focusing on God’s voice to me in the midst of it all would be such a beautiful way to turn towards the positive. And it would be so encouraging to go back later and read how God was always in control, always loving me.

    • It truly is amazing, Cindy, and I would love to hear back from you with followup on how your journaling is going. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  7. This is so totally me today. I came to have my time with God but felt so tired from the fight that I could only cry and cry. Listening to worship didn’t help couldn’t get into the bible. Just cried. Finally went on fb and one verse that God has personally spoken to me so many times broke through Is 41:10. But it came just through the cries of my heart.

    • Helen, that very passage has become one of the dearest to my heart. Our 21-year-old son wrote a worship song with that passage as the lyrics, and I sing it all the time. It ministers to me soul-deep. I so get the weariness you’re feeling. I spent more than half of the day today sobbing, and finally had to drop it all in God’s lap and lie down at around 4pm, just spent. Sometimes we just have to let the Holy Spirit talk for us, girl. My heart is with you, and my prayers are going up for you.

  8. Thank you for your prayers. Today God met with me goa powerful way as I was just going through my day. The rest of the day has been great.

  9. Thank you for your prayers. Today God met with me in a powerful way as I was just going through my day. The rest of the day has been great.

  10. Thank you so much for this! It is amazing how wonderfully God uses one thing (the post of the contest) to get us to where we need to be to read what He is telling us through another. God is so awesome and I am so glad you allow Him to speak through you in such a blessed way. I am excited to try the journal and can’t wait to go back later as you did and see how God spoke with me!!

    Blessings!!

    Gailya

    • I love how you worded that, Gailya! I completely agree, and love the creative ways God places us right where we need to be. I’m so glad you were led here, and hope you return often to hang out with us. Bless you, sweet friend.

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