Lately, I feel like I’ve been peeking into the windows of so many who are hurting. Sometimes those windows are wide open, other times I just catch a glimpse. But it’s all the same: Heavy hearts beating faster and slower, trying to pump through pain from all directions.
I’ll pray for you.
It seems so…small.
In my smallness, I want to be big. I want to have answers. I want to wrap things up in pretty paper and tie it up with a bow. I want to solve problems. I want to be in control. It’s so easy to say that God is wonderful when life is wonderful. But how do you tell a hurting person that God is amazing when nothing feels very amazing?
We’re all in need of redemption. For ourselves, our families, our communities, our world. We’re in a constant need of desperate healing — caught in a cycle of bending and breaking and building — becoming stronger and more resilient than we were before.
I’m thankful for a God who constantly pursues of us. A God actively and acutely working to reconcile us back to himself. Who shows us that life is raw and real and that there’s no need to wrap everything up in ribbons and bows. That ripping off the tape and tearing off the paper isn’t pretty, but it’s in those scary moments that we find Him. It’s in those times when we’re all alone, sitting with the empty box of hurts and questions and anxieties, in the quiet of the night, that we sense something. That God isn’t the cause of the pain. No, he’s the one sitting beside us, quietly and softly, listening and joining in our pain and working it into something bigger.
Sometimes, I just want answers, and I know you do, too. Until that day comes, I will pray. And somehow, I believe those prayers that seem so small are part of something much bigger. I believe there’s a Creator who selflessly humbled himself to come to this broken world to feel that pain you feel right now. Who crossed lines and humbled himself to the point of death, because of his infinite, compassionate, all-consuming love.
I don’t know your hurts, but Jesus does. He knows. When no one else gets it, he has already gone before you. So I’ll pray that in those dark moments, you catch sight of his everlasting light, letting it illuminate your heart when everything else has dimmed.
You know that hymn, It Is Well With My Soul? (I love the Ember Days’ take on it.) I remembered that there was a sad story behind it, and did a little digging. I was up for over an hour, way past my bedtime, reading about Horatio and Anna Spafford, and their walk with Jesus. The heart-wrenching trials they faced, and how they left their pursuit of the American Dream to and serve God and others across the world. Real life. Real pain. Real love. So fascinating.
Their story reads like a movie: Horatio was a lawyer working in Chicago when the Great Chicago Fire destroyed most of what he worked so hard for, and an economic crash destroyed the rest. He sent his wife and four little girls overseas, where he planned to meet them after he tied up some business. In a tragic midnight accident in the Atlantic ocean, their ship crashed into another, killing more than 200 passengers, including his little daughters, age 2 – 8. His wife was somehow rescued from the wreckage (She was knocked unconcious, and was haunted by the memory of trying to grasp the hem of one of her little girls’ nightgowns as she was cast into the sea.) She sent Horatio a somber telegram: Saved alone.
He immediately boarded the ship to meet his broken wife, forced to sail over the spots where his daughters tragically died. The story is that he wrote the words to the hymn on that boat.
Horatio and Anna returned to Chicago, attempting to rebuild what was left of their shattered hearts. They had three more little ones, and when their son was just 4, he died of Scarlet Fever. Their church, were Horatio was a founding member, told them that these tragic events were some sort of smiting from God, an act of divine punishment. Hurting and wanting to find the Jesus he read about in scripture, Horatio and Anna sold what they had and moved to Jerusalem, where they lived in community with a few other believers in what they called “the American Colony”, where they loved and served alongside the people of Jerusalem (regardless of their religious affiliation and without forcing evangelism), gaining the trust of the local Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities. They ran soup kitchens, hospitals, and orphanages during and immediately after World War 1.
From what I’ve read, it sounds like being the hands and feet of Jesus. It sounds like a story of two people who, even after the most heart-wrenching, tragic pain, found strength in Jesus and reflected His love in real, tangible ways. In Phillipians, Paul wrote that he had come to be content, whatever the circumstance. I think they were examples of this, living with a peace that passed all wordly understanding.
May we all find that strength and resilience that comes from knowing we have a hope greater than even our deepest sorrow.
Photo features a print from PrintableWisdom