The healing good
of families is not to pile up love
under thick blankets for ourselves alone,
but to help each other carry it like lanterns
straight out our doors to a dark and hurting world.
With much love for L and S
Where are You, O God? Where are You for our friends? I plant my elbows on the navy-checked tablecloth. I stare at the corncob salt-and-peppers from the thrift shop–mere specks of dust in the universe, but they usually make me smile. Not today. My heart is heavy.
Outside, brilliant oranges and yellows proclaim the time of rest for trees. Winter approaches—the first snows dust the tops of the nearby foothills. The once-dry creek roars again. My mind roars, too. But I want to hope.The evidence of You is all around.
Are You wrapped around our friends today? Are You their refuge and strength? Are You holding them up?
Why are these friends continuously pummeled by storms with little rest—cancer, deaths of loved ones, dementia in both fathers, and the latest blow–arrest of a son for whom they’ve prayed, sacrificed, counseled, and laid down their lives in every arena?
Satan pounds them without abatement. The “Adam” bombs of mortality threaten to blast them to dust and grind them to spit.
We’re not supposed to ask why. But Moses did. David did. May I ask for them, Lord? May I beg a respite for them from the storms? How much more? Will You hide them in the shelter of Your wings?
Can they find refuge in sleep? They bury their faces in wet pillows. A God who makes autumn and constellations and babies to grow inside us–the conclusion will be perfect, yes, but it looks a mess now. Where is the ray of hope?
The sister of Lazarus said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21 NASB) Jesus asked Martha if she believed He could raise the dead. She did, she said, yes, certainly, sometime in the future. But Jesus raised Lazarus that very day.
We need a raising, Lord.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1)
When Job lost his animals, servants, buildings, children, and health, he asked why. You answered him with Your beauty and majesty, Your authority over the store houses of snow and every created thing. Job fell on his face and retracted his questions as piffle.
We want to retract our questions but, right now, none of what’s happening feels like piffle.It feels like our hearts can’t continue beating against the flood–that they’re ripped out, strewn on the rocks, and bleeding underfoot.
But Your heart is breaking too, isn’t it, Lord? When we weep and cry out to You, and rail against the evil in the world that devastates us and kills the ones we love, You know how we feel, don’t You? You know because You were here once.
After You listened to Martha and Mary, You stood outside Lazarus’ tomb and wept.
That’s our ray of hope.
You wept over our reality. You accepted the whole pain of it on the Cross. You said to Your disciples–all the ones then and all the ones now–“In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Help us take courage today, Lord. Help us remember You standing outside that tomb looking at the wages of sin and weeping for us. Give our friends the courage of hope in You and Your finished work. Give us faith in things not seen.
We are creatures of dust. You’ve put it in our hearts to love and sacrifice for other creatures of dust, to find pleasure and beauty even in inanimate things that will all pass away. Therefore, hide us in the shelter of Your wings, that we would find hope in You, despite what we see.
Please, Lord–only You can give life.
I tried to cry it all out the first day, Lord—the big decision, the pain of it hitting me harder than it ought, confused with other losses, making me feel small and broken and alone. I sat on the stairs in my barn boots and flannel shirt in the early morning stillness before the thermostat started the furnace. I didn’t even wake the dogs.
In the mirror I looked so like and so unlike myself.
Child woman, shivering.
I asked You why there’s this stabbing longing in my heart, this feeling there’s a person inside me who cannot get out, a woman there’s no room for? And You said, “Now we see in a mirror dimly; but then face to face.”
I repeated this to myself as the household wakened and the girls arrived–someday I’ll know why.
Instead, I berated myself for self-indulgence when there’s so much need in the world—families who don’t have stairs or boots or mirrors—families who would be grateful for just one sandwich to split up amongst themselves. This self-beating seemed deserved, but it wasn’t from You.
The second day I forgot to look for Your words again. I put on my big girl panties to get back to work. But self-talk and grinding away alone, all the while telling myself someday I’ll know why couldn’t lift me out of my brokenness.
So that day rolled over and squashed me, too. This wasn’t You, either.
On the third day, the sky hung gloomy, dark, and NOTHING—no rain or sun or wind or bird calls—just the feeling of waiting so heavy over me. By then, I’d forgot all about seeing dimly in a mirror and understanding someday. I cried like I was falling, falling, and never going to fly again.
But I desperately wanted to be lifted up. So I did something I rarely do. And this was from You.
Though I was raised in a “don’t need nobody” home, I emailed a few folks about how I felt. Then I took the girls for a last-day-of-summer outing to the Children’s Museum where, away from the worry, we played, laughed, and wondered at Your amazing world.
When I checked my email later, people had sent love, encouragement, sympathy, empathy, sweet offers of help, and “ginourmous hugs.” Thank you to all of you. Though I felt embarrassed at sharing, you made me feel better. And this was God’s doing, too.
Then I searched the Bible for the mirror reference. You know what? It’s in the Love Chapter.
I Corinthians 13 is about world-changing face-to-face love—one truthful confidence, one selfless kindness, one generous offer, one “ginormous hug” at a time. It’s about growing up to discern what lasts. It’s about the inclusive we instead of the self-sufficient me. It’s about how “Love never fails” even when we’re embarrassed.
Did you hear that? Love NEVER fails. That’s a 100% success rate.
“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
(I Corinthians 13:12 NIV)
God already knows you and me fully because He created us. And if He made us, He also has made room for us. It may be we just have to learn to ask for help.
Someday we’ll see God face to face—our faces together with His. We’ll see Him in all His beauty, glory, and essence without vaporizing to particles. Like Job, we’ll realize our questions are profound as the color of toilet paper, our sorrows fleeting as grass.
“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows…and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4,5)
Lord, You know me. You made the squeezing pump of my heart and the function of my tiniest cells. You know my secret longings and prayers. Help me with my brokenness. Forgive me when I try to overcome the hard things alone.