In one of my first posts for Grace & Such, The Constants of Change, I eluded to a very rough 2005. My husband, Todd, resigned his position in Little Rock, Arkansas, and accepted a job in the Northwest suburbs of Philadelphia. That was a huge decision and one that wasn’t taken lightly. In fact, it was one that was made with a lot of prayer. Not just by us, but by trusted friends who, even though they would have rather we stay in Arkansas, wanted God’s will for our lives.
Less than a week later, at the age of 39, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Talk about throwing a monkey wrench in the gears. The Reader’s Digest Condensed version of a very long story is that we decided the kids and I would stay in Arkansas while I underwent treatment after my surgery.
What was originally going to be a three or four month separation turned into a year and a week. No doubt, it was the hardest year of Todd’s and my life. There were moments it was so hard, in fact, that I couldn’t pray. My despair was so great, all I could think was, “Oh, God.” All I could say was, “Oh, God.”
Romans 8:26 tells us “the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” I knew God knew my heart and what exactly I needed, even though I couldn’t express it.
Standing in the Gap
But I also knew I had friends pleading with God on my behalf. To heal me, to comfort Todd, to be with our kids, to make the time go fast… all the things, and then some, that I was unable to pray for. They were standing in the gap.
I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one. ~Ezekiel 22:30
The idea is that when we can’t stand before God, we have someone who can do it for us. I picture a big stone wall with a large fissure in it. Normally, I’m able to stand in that crack and defend my city within the wall from all danger. When I am unable to fill that opening, it leaves my city vulnerable to attack. But when I have people who can temporarily take my place, my city is still protected.
On those rare occasions when all I could do was mutter, “Oh, God,” I knew I had people filling in for me. People who were praying on my behalf, saying the words I couldn’t find.
What a peace there is in that.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2