Romans 8:26-27: "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities:
for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself
maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit,
because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."
There are many problems that require a special kind of prayer,
and require a deeper level of healing by the Spirit.
Somewhere between our sins, and our sicknesses, on the one hand,
are what the Scripture calls "infirmities," on the other hand.
An illustration from nature will help us explain "infirmities".
If you visit the far West, you would see beautiful giant sequoias and redwood trees.
A naturalist could show you a cross-section of the great tree that they have cut down,
and could point out that the rings of the tree reveals the developmental history of that tree,
year by year.
They could tell us that a ring that represents a certain year
and can tell us when there was a terrible drought.
They could also show us when there was too much rain.
Another tree you could show us that tree was struck by lightning.
And then, they could show us some normal years of growth.
Another ring shows that a forest fire almost destroyed a tree.
Another ring in another tree show the results of blight and disease.
All of this information is embedded in the heart of the tree,
and represents the history of its growth.
And that is the way it is with us.
Just a few minutes beneath the protective bark, and our concealing, protective mask
is where the rings of our lives is recorded.
There are scars of old and painful hurts.
Everyone has experienced such hurts.
There are scars that reveal all kinds of personal difficulties.
Some scars might represent the pressure of a painful, repressed memory.
Some might remember running after an alcoholic father who is about to kill the mother,
and then rushing to get the butcher knife -- I knew one 12-year-old boy
that had those scars on his life.
Some painful scars have been buried so long that they still causing a hurt and rage
that are inexplicable.
And the scars and wounds from the past are not released by a new birth conversion
or by the ordinary benefits of prayer.
The wounded thoughts and emotions are still buried there, and the memories
that have been recorded are still hurt.
They still deeply affect our attitudes, our feelings, and our relationships.
They still affect the way we look at life, and the way we look at God.
They still affect the way we look at others, and the way we look at ourselves.
Sometimes, we can have the mistaken ideal that the new birth,
and being "filled with the Spirit" will automatically take care of these emotional hangups.
But this just isn't true.
A great crisis experience of Jesus Christ as important and eternal evaluable as that is,
is not a shortcut to emotional help.
It is not a quickie cure for personality problems.
It is necessary that we understand this so that we can live with ourselves
and allow the Holy Spirit to work with special healing in our lives.
We also need to understand this in order not to judge other people too harshly,
but to have patience with their confusing and contradictory behavior.
There are times when that special healing by the Holy Spirit is so needed
to bring about the renewal of our minds.
This is not done overnight by a crisis experience.
We need to understand the work of the Holy Spirit in dealing with these extremes.
And we need the Holy Spirit to protect us from two extremes.
Some Christians see anything that wiggles as the devil.
The other extreme is an overly simplistic pat-answer syndrome.
This syndrome says, "Read your Bible. Pray. Have more faith.
If you were spiritually okay, and you wouldn't have this thing up.
You would never get depressed
People who say such things are being very cruel although they probably don't intend to be.
They are only piling more weights on a person who is in pain and unsuccessfully
struggling with emotionally, rooted problems.
They already feel guilty about it, and when people make them feel worse
for even having the problem, that doubles the weight of that person's guilt and despair.
We need to look at some of these infirmities -- these damaged emotions.
One of the most common is a deep sense of unworthiness, a continuous feeling of anxiety,
inadequacy, and inferiority, and an inner nagging that says, "I'm no good,
I will never amount to anything.
No one could ever possibly love me.
Everything I do and say is wrong."
What happens to this kind of person when he or she becomes a Christian?
Part of that person's mind believes in God's love, and accepts God's forgiveness,
and feels at peace for a while.
Then suddenly, one day everything within him rises up to cry out, "It's a lie!
Don't believe it.
There's no one there to hear you.
No one really cares.
How could God possibly love you and forgive someone like you.
You are too bad!"
What has happened?
The good news of the gospel has not penetrated down into his damaged inner self,
which also needs to be made well.
Those deep inner scars must be touched and healed by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Then, there is another kind.
We could call it the "perfectionist complex".
This is the inner feeling that says, "I can never quite achieve.
I never do anything well enough.
I came please myself, others, or God."
This kind of person is always grasping, striving, usually feeling guilty,
and is driven by inner oughts and shoulds.
"I ought to be able to do this.
I should be able to do that.
I must be a little bit better than I am."
This person is always climbing, but never arriving.
What happens to this person, when this person becomes a Christian?
Tragically enough, he usually transfers his perfectionism onto his relationship with God,
who is seen now as a figure on top of a tall ladder.
He says to himself, "I'm going to climb up to God now.
I am God's child, and I want to please Him, more than anything else."
So he starts climbing, rung by rung, working so hard, until his knuckles are bleeding
and his shins are bruised.
Finally, he reaches the top, only to find that the ladder has moved up five rungs.
So, he determines to try a little harder.
He climbs and struggles, but when he gets up there again,
he finds that the ladder to God has gone up another five rungs.
I read the story of a pastor who suffered a complete, nervous breakdown.
As this man grew up, he always wanted very much to please his parents.
He tried to win his mother's approval by occasionally helping her to set the table.
But she would say, "Bill, you got the knives in the wrong place,"
so he would put the knives in the right place.
Then the mother would say, "Now you got the forks wrong."
After that it was the salad plates.
He came to think that he could never please her.
Try as hard as he might, he could never please his father.
He brought home his report card with B's and C's.
His father looked at the card and said,
"Bill, I think if you would really try, you could get all B's?"
So, he studied harder and harder, and one day he brought home all B's.
His father said, "Bill if you just put a little more effort into it,
you could get all A's."
So he worked and struggled through a semester or two, until finally he got all A's.
He was so excited for now his mother and father would really be pleased with him.
He almost ran all the way home.
He could hardly wait to get there.
His father looked at the report card and said," Well, I know those teachers.
They always give A's."
So one day, Bill became a minister, and all he did was exchange one mother
and one father for several hundred of them.
His congregation became his unpleaseable parents.
He could never satisfy them, no matter what he did.
Finally, he just collapsed under the sheer weight of struggling for approval,
and trying to prove himself.
The perfectionist complex defeats so many in their Christian life.
Then, there is another kind of damaged emotion that we could call "supersensitive".
The supersensitive person has usually been deeply hurt.
He has reached out for love and approval and affection, but instead, he got the opposite.
So, he has deep scars inside of him.
Sometimes, he sees things in ways that other people don't see.
He tends to feel things that other people don't feel.
I have read about a man who was so supersensitive that he stopped going to football games.
Because every time the team got into a huddle, he thought they were talking about him.
Supersensitive people need a lot of approval.
They never can get quite enough of approval, and they seem to be very insensitive.
They have been hurt so badly that instead of becoming sensitive, they cover it up
by being hard and tough.
They want to get even.
They even want to hurt others.
So unbeknown to them, they spend their lives pushing people around,
hurting and dominating them.
They use money or authority or position or sex to hurt people.
All these things very deeply affect their Christian experience.
Then, there are people who are "filled with fears".
Perhaps their greatest fear is the fear of failure.
These damaged people are so afraid of losing the game of life
that they have a simple way out, and that is to never get into the game.
They just sit on the sidelines.
They say," I don't like the rules," or "I don't like the referee."
Life is filled with people who fear failure.
They fear making the wrong decision.
What happens to such people as they approached the Christian life?
Believing is a great risk for them.
It's very difficult.
Decisions tear them up.
Faith comes hard .or them
Witnessing is difficult.
Really surrendering to God is almost a trauma.
Fearful people live with the" if onlys".
"If only this or if only that, then I would be okay."
But since the "if only" never comes to pass, they usually never accomplish
what they had intended.
Fearful people are the defeated and the indecisive.
God has a message for all who are emotionally damaged.
If God did not provide healing for them, then we had better put a padlock on our church doors,
and quit playing Christianity, and shut up about our "good news."
The good news is that God has repairs for the emotionally damaged.
Paul wrote to the Roman Christians about the Holy Spirit who helps air infirmities.
Many of the modern translations use "weaknesses" or "cripplings"
instead of the word, "infirmities".
The Holy Spirit becomes our helper who works alongside of us
and is ready to assist us in our being healed.
The Holy Spirit is our divine counselor.
He is the divine psychiatrist, who can take our problem and lead us to provide
to receive the help and healing that we need.
So, what is our part of the healing process?
Let's look at some general biblical principles which must be followed
in order for us to find healing for our damaged emotions.
First, we must face our problems.
We must honestly admit them.
We must have a ruthless, honesty with ourselves.
Then, with God's grace, we can confront these hidden, childhood memories,
however deep they are within us.
We must acknowledge them to ourselves, and also we must acknowledge them to others.
Some problems will never be solved until we confess them to others.
James 5:16 says, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another,
that you may be healed."
Some people miss deep inner healing because they lack the courage to honestly share
them with another person.
In the second place, accept your responsibility in the matter.
You might say, "But I was sinned against. I was a victim.
You just don't know what happened to me."
That could very well be true.
But what about your response?
What about the fact that you learned to hate or resent, or to escape into an unreal world?
You may try to blame others, and they probably deserve some of it.
But then, after the first time, what about the second time, and the third time.
Then, whose fault was it?
Life is like a complicated tapestry, woven with a loom and shuttle.
Heredity, environment, all the things experienced in childhood, from parents, from teachers,
from playmates, all of life's handicaps -- all of these things are all one side of the loom
and they pass the shuttle to you.
Remember, you pass the shuttle back through the loom.
And this action, together with your responses, you used the design in the tapestry of your life.
We must acknowledge that we are responsible for our actions.
You are responsible for your actions.
You will never receive healing for your damaged emotions until you stop blaming
everyone else and accept your responsibility.
Third, you must ask yourself if you want to be healed.
In John 5:6, Jesus asked a sick man who had been ill for 38 years if he wanted to be healed.
Do you really want to be healed, or do you just want to keep talking about your problem?
Are you using your problem just to get sympathy from others?
Do you want to use it for a crutch so that you can walk with a limp?
The lame man said to Jesus, "But Lord, nobody puts me into the pool.
I try, but they all get there ahead of me."
He refused to look deep within his heart to find out whether he really wanted to be healed.
We live in an age where many want to blame someone else instead of facing
his or her own responsibilities.
So the question is: "Do you really want to be healed?
Are you willing to face your responsibility in the problem?
Fourth, forgive everyone who is involved in your problem.
Facing responsibility and forgiving people are really two sides of the same coin.
The reason some people have never been able to forgive is that if they forgive,
then they would have no one else to blame.
Facing responsibility and forgiving are almost the same action.
In some instances, you need to do them simultaneously.
Jesus made it very plain that no healing occurs until there is the forgiveness.
In the fifth place, you must forgive yourself.
So many Christians will say, "Yes, I know that God has forgiven me,
but I can never forgive myself."
That statement is a contradiction in terms.
How can you really believe that God has forgiven you, and then not forgive yourself?
When God forgives, He buries your sins in the deepest sea of His forgiveness
and His forgetfulness.
Corrie Ten Boom once of this problem said, "Then God puts a sign on the bank
which says, "No fishing allowed."
We have no right to dredge up anything that God has forgiven and forgotten.
God has put it behind His back.
God has forgotten your sins.
Now, you can forgive yourself.
Sixth, ask the Holy Spirit to show you what your real problem is, and how you need to pray.
Paul said that we often do not know how to pray as we ought. (Romans 8:26)
But the Holy Spirit prays in and through us, and makes intercession for us.
Sometimes, God uses a human counselor, who can help us to perceive
and understand the real problem that we have.
Sometimes, the Holy Spirit does this through the Word of God
or through some incident in life that makes us aware of our real problem.
It is important that we realize the true problem and know how we should pray.
James reminded us that we sometimes do not receive because we pray for the wrong things.
You must ask God to show you where your real need is.
I read about a man named Steinmetz.
He was a friend of Henry Ford.
He was a dwarf, but he had one of the greatest minds in the field of electricity
that the world has ever known.
Steinmetz built the great generators for Henry Ford for his first plant in Dearborn, Michigan.
One day those generators broke down, and the plant and the work came to a complete stop.
They brought in ordinary mechanics and helpers who were unable to get
the generators going again.
They were losing a lot money.
Then, they called Steinmetz.
The genius came, and seemed just to putter around for a few hours,
and then, threw the switch that put the Ford plant back into operation.
A few days later, Henry Ford received a bill from Steinmetz for $10,000.
Although Ford was a very rich man, he returned the bill with a note which read,
"Charlie, isn't this bill just a little high for a few hours of tinkering around on those motors."
Steinmetz returned the bill to Ford.
This time it read: "For tinkering around on the motors: $10.
For knowing where to tinker, it is $9,990.
Henry Ford paid the bill.
The Holy Spirit knows where to tinker with our problems.
We do not know what we ought to be praying.
We often do not receive, because we ask for the wrong things.
So ask the Holy Spirit to show you what you need to know about yourself,
and then ask Him to guide you in your prayers that you may receive the help that you need.
Then, you will receive the help that you need, and you can live
a peaceful and more productive life.
Breathe On Me
"Holy Spirit, breathe on me,
until my heart is clean;
let sunshine fill its inmost part,
with not a cloud between.
Holy Spirit, breathe on me,
my stubborn will subdue;
teach me in words of living flame
what Christ would have me do.
Holy Spirit, breathe on me,
fill me with pow'r divine;
kindle a flame of love and zeal
within this heart of mine.
Holy Spirit, breathe on me,
till I am all Thine own,
until my will is lost in Thine,
to live for Thee alone.
Breathe on me, breathe on me
Holy Spirit, breathe on me;
Take Thou my heart, cleanse every part,
Holy Spirit breathe on me."
Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White