Water for the Thirsty
Weekly Devotional

Water for the Thirsty

Singing In The Night

Weekly Devotional

‘As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God’. (Psalm 42:1)
‘…Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink”…’ (John 7:37)

12th June 2011

It’s unnatural to sing during times of trouble, except perhaps to sing the blues. But, on this Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate the promise, presence, and power of the Holy Spirit, who empowers us to sing even during the darkest of nights.

It was on the Day of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit fell on an uncertain and powerless community. But, just as Jesus had promised, the Spirit of God transformed that body into a powerful witness to God's gracious love and healing presence.

The same Spirit that came powerfully upon the church that day is at work in our lives, empowering us and sustaining us, even in the darkest of moments. That is the message of Romans 8.

Everything we know about Paul suggests that he understood the meaning of suffering. He experienced shipwreck, imprisonment, beatings, and a thorn in the flesh. While all of this could overwhelm even the strongest person, he found strength in the midst of his suffering. In Romans 8:26 Paul acknowledges that "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."

When we experience that dark night of the soul, when we can’t find the words to speak to God, the Spirit is there interceding for us. Indeed, the Spirit knows our hearts and hears our cries and groans, and shares them with the Father who is always listening for the voice of his children.

So, even if we can't speak for ourselves, we know that God still hears what is in our hearts.

One reason why I take comfort in the promise that God hears my cries is that this promise is set in the context of other promises. If we continue to read through Romans 8, we’ll find some of the most powerful and hopeful promises in all of scripture:

"In all things God works for the good of those who love him” (V.28)
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (V.31)
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (V. 35)
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (V. 37)

We can all draw strength from these promises.

I know that there’s a question that troubles so many in our world: Why do bad things happen to good people?

I can't explain why some people suffer and others don't. I'm mystified by Parkinsons, AIDS, and Alzheimers. Good people lose their jobs and their homes.

But, as I listen to these promises, I’m reminded that God is present and active in our lives, even during times of darkness; when sadness and grief, pain and suffering, threaten to overwhelm us. And so I draw strength from the promise that when words fail, the Spirit is there to intercede for us.

When the darkness falls, and words seem absent, perhaps we can heed the example of Paul and Silas. Finding themselves beaten and jailed at Philippi, at midnight they began to sing out in praise to God. As Luke tells the story, while they sang, an earthquake shook the jail and freed them from their chains. They could have escaped, but they didn't. And because they stayed in the cell, they had an opportunity to share their faith with the jailer. Luke writes that by morning that jailer and his whole family had been baptized, all because Paul and Silas sang praises to God in the night (Acts 16:16–40).

As we ponder the message of Pentecost, I pray that we will find strength in the knowledge that if God is for us then no one and no thing can be against us and succeed. Indeed, filled with God’s Holy Spirit, let us remember that we’re more than conquerors.

Pentecost is a reminder that the Spirit of God has fallen abundantly on the world. Walking in that Spirit, we can live lives of joy and thanksgiving, even when darkness falls, for when we can’t find the words, the Spirit will speak, bearing witness to the healing grace of God.

Have a good week singing in the night.

Pastor Barry

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