I didn’t like the way the situation was working out. I couldn’t control the actors or their actions, but I’d wished, hoped, and prayed – a lot – for a different outcome. I felt as though the circumstances had created a knot in my heart. I could physically feel the stress consume me because I kept longing for a particular result even in the face of reality. I continued to pray and tried to say the words I thought were “right.” But I finally admitted to God and myself that I wasn’t ready to let go. I was still holding on to what I wanted to happen with white knuckle determination. In my journal, which basically consists of my letters to God, I wrote about the grief I felt, and then prayed, “I want help. At least, I want to want help. Is that a first step forward? Please let it be, Lord.”
Sometimes, the bare minimum we can do is admit that we know we need to adapt, even if we aren’t quite ready to make a move. God wants to help us better deal with the way life unfolds, but we may not be prepared to accept God’s grace and comfort. So, we can do the next best thing: confess that we just don’t know what to do or how to pray.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible says, “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God.” Romans 8:26-27 (The Message). We may be worn out and unsure of how to pray, but God knows. God takes our deepest sighs, our loudest groans, and our fountain of tears and translates them into the prayers we need. God is not upset with us for being timid or reluctant or stubborn. Instead, God knows we become tired while we wait and that we may feel angry or hurt by what the waiting produces. God can open our hearts and minds so that someday we will see our way through the problems. Someday, we will be ready to receive all of the transforming power only God can pour into us.
That day will not necessarily arrive instantaneously. God’s miracles often develop over time and may be difficult to see clearly until much later. But we can trust that God is in the process of untangling the knots in our souls slowly but surely. The pain in my heart did not lessen when I prayed that I wanted to want help. In fact, the heartache and disappointment grew worse in the immediate days afterward. But in my desperation, I began to lean on God’s promise that he understood me anyway when I couldn’t find the words or discern the direction I needed to go. I threw my up hands and said, “you’ve got to do it, God.” That was all I could do. And that was enough.