Verse 22, "... groaneth and travaileth in pain ..."
Verse 23, "... we ourselves groan within ourselves, ..."
Verse 26, "... with groanings which cannot be uttered."
Physical groaning and travail is something no man really knows about, not in the context of this passage. These words describe what a woman goes through in childbirth. At least half of those reading this (the female half) would tell you that men don't know what pain really is. But the Author of Scripture is using a physical analogy to explain a spiritual principle.
The Holy Spirit points out that the whole of creation is travailing in the pangs of birth awaiting one event on the horizon of God's new day. This waiting is a travail that the child of God enters into in the struggle with the flesh that all of us face. We are "... waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." (verse 23).
Having pointed out the travail of the whole of creation, and then the travail of a believer struggling with the warring members of his flesh against the desires of the Spirit, he says, "Likewise the Spirit ..." (verse 26). Paul, in encouraging us in hope and endurance of trial, speaks of the third member of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit, and His involvement in this groaning and travail.
- The Spirit helps our infirmities. He "props us up on the leaning side." This One who remembers that we are dust, who reminds us that we can do nothing without Him, helps our weakness. This weakness is especially demonstrated in the matter of prayer.
- The Spirit makes intercession for us. They tell me that this word "intercession" literally means "one running to the rescue of one who is in danger." He does this because of our weakness and our ignorance "... for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: ..." (verse 26).
- The Spirit expresses His empathy and His desire "... with groanings which cannot be uttered." (verse 26). There is no way to explain something that is not explained to us in the Scripture. There are no words to express the unutterable. This is holy ground. This is the Holy of Holies, if you will.
I understand why humans groan. I have been at the bedside of suffering. I have watched mothers and fathers try to deal emotionally with the passing of infants and teens. I have seen sons and daughters weep at the graveside of a loving mother or father. I have known the frustration of not knowing how to pray or what to say. I have groaned with them and for them, and for myself as well. But to think that God's Holy Spirit, knowing what is in my mind and knowing the mind of the Father, runs to our rescue so burdened with our plight that He can only speak from the heart, without words, in groaning and travail. No wonder He is the Comforter!
Written by David Martin