When those we love suffer, our helplessness and compassion overflow in small expressions of care. We know our gift is nothing in the face of what our loved ones are going through – it cannot answer excruciating questions or heal wounds. But we bring these gifts anyway; we stand on the porch with a pot of soup.
I view this post as such an offering – not one that presumes to answer unanswerable questions or to cure heart-wounds, but an image painted with words that has been stirring hope in me, and that I wish might bring the kind of comfort soup or flowers might bring to you:
It’s a line from a tender poem mixing together with the theme from a wise book.
Snow and Grace
A friend of mine wrote a poem about snow, likening it to grace. She described the flakes gently falling at night:
All the cavernous places slowly filled and for the first time in oh so long, became the envy of all~like a setting for a diamond.
(“Midnight Snow of Grace,” firstname.lastname@example.org)
I want to see the losses, fears, indignities, and pains of those I love filled with grace like the “cavernous places” Sonya writes about. I want these very places in my loved one’s lives – in my life – to be the places that one day shine as settings for grace.
I trust this hope has basis.
O. Hallesby says, “To pray is nothing more involved than to let Jesus into our needs. . . To pray is to let Jesus glorify His name in the midst of our needs,” (“Prayer,” loc. 60).
His primary metaphor for understanding prayer is Jesus saying,
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him,” (Rev 3:20).
Hallesby says we pray in response to Jesus’ initiation, His knocking at the door of our hearts. We only think to pray, he says, because Jesus is there knocking. Prayer is opening the door, giving Him access to our empty places.
I see loss, difficulty, and uncertainty as cavernous places, and I have hope that when we open them to Jesus He fills them with grace so they can become, as Sonya said, like settings for diamonds.
Power in Weakness
I read this week these words of Paul:
But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. . . For when I am weak, then I am strong,” (2 Cor 12:9,10).
I confess I have never understood or particularly liked these words.
But now I am thinking perhaps he is speaking of what I am trying to understand, that the worst things we experience can make space for Christ, for grace, in our lives. Maybe, as much as I resist it, it is our weakness and emptiness that makes room in our hearts for more of Him.
I do know that I can look back at some of the trauma’s of my life – a life-threatening head injury and years of helmet-wearing, the murder of my aunt and cousin – and see the truth of this word-picture.
As I have slowly opened to Jesus these places of loss, fear, and pain in my life, these very places have become the meeting ground where I have encountered His tenderness and compassion, His love for me. My weakness and pain drove me to seek Him, and He allowed Himself to be found by me.
In this way, my emptiness becomes the only thing I can bring to the world, because as He has filled it, I have come to know Him a little better, and it is only what I know of Him that I can bring to anyone else: I trust that my cavernous places are becoming settings for the display of His grace.
It took years for me to open my wounded heart to Jesus, inviting Him to enter in. I didn’t know I could, or that He cared.
But now I hope that I will do so sooner, that as soon as a cavernous place opens up in me, I will open the door to Jesus, inviting Him into my helplessness and need. I hope I will be encouraged by Hallesby’s simple understanding of prayer: “To pray is to open the door unto Jesus and admit Him into your distress,” (loc. 145).
And I hope, then, that those very places of emptiness will fill with His grace and become settings for His beauty.
I pray it will happen for you too, that if you are suffering today, you can sit down with Jesus and this word-picture, like friends sharing soup, and open your losses and your wounds to Him. May He begin to fill them with grace, that your loss and suffering can become the very place where you meet Him most intimately and experience His love most deeply.
In this way, may every loss be slowly redeemed until it shines like snow in the sunshine, glistening in this dark world.
This is my prayer, my hope, for you and for me.