Some of you will recognize this building. It’s the Chicago Ave. Pumping Station in Chicago and was one of four buildings that survived the great Chicago fire of October 8 – 10, 1871. The fire killed approximately 300 people, destroyed roughly 3.3 square miles of the city, and left more than 100,000 residents homeless. My family and I used to go to Chicago frequently when I lived in La Porte because it was so close. Every time I passed that Pumping Station I wondered about what it must have been like to have been one of the 100,000 homeless in that smoky mess.
My family experienced a house fire about ten years ago when we lived in La Porte. My youngest was the only one home – a rising junior in High School at the time. There was an mistake made when the new stove was installed and the electricity arced behind it and set fire to the kitchen. Terry figured out there was a problem when all the lights in the house went out and then smelled smoke. He was quick on his feet. He gathered the dog and headed to the neighbor’s house to call 911. The fire trucks were quick but the kitchen was badly burned and the whole house had smoke damage. We were forced into two small apartments over the stores downtown for 3 months while the repairs stretched on and on… or so it seemed. It was a time of great sadness for our family.
Most of us can tell a story of some sort of disaster in our lives or some difficult time we experienced. I feel like I have more of these stories in my memory than I would like to have. I imagine most people feel the same. At such times, however, I can remember turning to the Lord in prayer. Sometimes I wasn’t even sure how to pray. Sometimes there were no words, just a deep ache inside from the terrible grief of the current intolerable circumstances. Paul says that’s when the Spirit steps in and prays for us. He writes, 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. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. (Romans 8:26 – 27.)
In whatever circumstance you find yourself tonight, know that God hears you whether there are words on your lips or just a groaning in your soul. God’s got you.
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