Just as parents attuned to their children’s suffering or worrying hear the slightest sighs as if through a mega-phone, the Lord hears our earnest sighs as loud cries.
I’ll never forget hearing our first child whimpering in the bassinet by our bed and thinking it sounded like shrieks that were nearly unbearable. Even now that we have three more autonomous grade-schoolers, I still have the ability to hear the slightest sigh of worry or embarrassment or deep, shaking fear from the sidelines of a soccer field or across a crowded playground.
Thankfully, our Heavenly Father hears our sighs as cries across far greater distances than soccer fields and lunch tables. Thanks to the indwelling Spirit He has graciously sent to be nearer to us than the air we breath, we have a sigh translator before the throne of God.
Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27.
The context of the above-mentioned Scripture from Romans 8 is life in the Spirit while we live on this moaning, broken planet, longing for the full adoption as sons. Paul assumes suffering in its spectrum from daily inconveniences and exhaustion to unbearable diagnoses and unimaginable tragedy. Sighs, both trivial and tragic, are expected and anticipated; however, they are heard in stereo by a compassionate and caring Savior who longs to bear the brunt of the weights that fall upon us in this long march to our forever home.
Even before the Holy Spirit was poured our upon the children of God, He was accustomed to hearing the sighs of His people as cries. Moses found himself at the helm of an entire race of escaping people staring at an impassable sea with the strongest army in the known world gaining on them.
With his petrified people looking to him in fear, outwardly Moses does what any great leader would do: he composes himself and calms his people, saying, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord which he will work for you today” (Exodus 12:13).
Yet inwardly, the heart of Moses must have sighing in silence to the Lord. The very next verse says, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward’.”
Regarding this Scriptural scene, Martin Luther writes the following.
“Moses has not cried unto the Lord. He trembled so he could hardly talk. His faith was at a low ebb. He saw the people of Israel wedged between the sea and the approaching armies of Pharaoh. How were they to escape? Moses did not know what to say. How then could God say that Moses was crying to him? God hears the groaning heart of Moses and the groans to Him sounded like shouts for help. God is quick to catch the sigh of the heart.”
Ten little words that have comforted my soul of late. God is quick to catch the sigh of the heart. He hears our silent sighs under the heavy mantle of leadership or parenting. He hears our short sighs of loneliness or exhaustion or choking grief that go unnoticed by others, and He seeks to comfort us.
Those sighs are being translated into prayers according to the perfect will of God. May we be comforted to know that our Father hears our slightest sighs as loud cries. He will continue to do so until our sighs of worry or pain or exile are swallowed up by the sighs of relief that we will gladly heave when we see our Christ fact to face in His new heavens and new earth.