Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Foreign Language (12/09/10)
- TITLE: No Language Barriers with God
By Hiram Claudio
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Yet, on the topic of ‘foreign language,’ we enter a realm that presents conflict and challenge. For in this, we immediately both embrace our need for words to be able to communicate and at the same time our inability to do so – simply because the language between us and someone else is ‘foreign.’
For us humans, the solution is simply to seek out a translator, someone who, because of their understanding of both languages involved, can ‘translate’ the words (and the very ideas). But what about those times when words fail you? When you are unable to express your feelings or ideas in your own language thus giving nothing with which a translator can work. One could say that in that situation what is needed is not a translator but a mind reader. Those times, between people, are uniquely difficult and frustrating.
But what about when this happens not as we try to communicate with another person but with God? It can seem hard enough to communicate with God when you have words to accurately express what is inside you but what do you do when you don’t?
In Romans 8:26, Paul tells us “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” (NIV). We can be comforted in that with the Lord, of all the challenges we may face in communicating with Him, a language barrier need not be one of them. Even in those times when you don’t know yourself what words to assign to a feeling or thought, God’s promise is that the Spirit not only acts as our ‘word’ translator but ‘thought’ or ‘feeling’ translator as well.
We are also told in this verse that the Spirit “intercedes FOR us” (emphasis added). Simply, not only is the Spirit translating our very thoughts to God’s throne but is doing so on our behalf. Another way of looking at that would be that this translation happens for our benefit. I have been in other countries and have had translators help me communicate. I’ve had many experiences where, while I was confident that the essence of what I tried to communicate was conveyed, I felt that my words somehow ‘lost something in the translation.’ Here we are promised that not only will the Spirit of God helps us communicate with God when words fail us, but that our message sent to Heaven’s throne will truly capture the very essence and heart of whatever it is we are going through.
It was in Genesis 11 (tower of Babel) where the concept of ‘foreign language’ was first introduced to humanity. Ever since, the possibility of being misunderstood or misinterpreted increased dramatically (not that people who speak the ‘same’ language don’t often face this as well). But the apostle’s encouragement here is that we can always rest securely in that when speaking with our Creator, clarity will never be an issue. We are comforted by the eternal truth that our God … understands!
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