The Defeat Itself Becomes Victory

There is much suffering in our world.
suffering
Much pain, grief, loneliness, disease, fear, death.
abnormal reality
These are normal on our planet. No one escapes.
This suffering reveals the defeat of man, the defeat of life itself, and no number of advances in technology or medicine can overcome it.
Yet their very normalcy is abnormal. It is not how our world was created.
perfect creation
Disease and death is not the way we were intended to live, yet our sin has broken our world and our very selves, and here we are.
It is into this abnormal reality that Christ comes. He comes not to remove our suffering but to transform it into victory.
transformation
God through Jesus transforms even our ultimate defeat, death, into victory, into an entrance into his kingdom and into the only true healing.
The Church comes, then, not simply to help us in our pain but to make us a witness to Christ in our sufferings. She comes to make us martyrs.
A martyr, in the words of Alexander Schmemann, is “one for whom God is not another — and the last — chance to stop the awful pain; God is his very life, and thus everything in his life comes to God.”
If we only come to God to stop the suffering, if we only turn to him for comfort in our pain, we miss the chance to become who we were created to be. We miss the chance to become more truly human.
We miss the chance to be made more closely into the image of God.
Rather than merely receiving comfort, we could become a witness to others of Christ himself. We could become one who beholds “the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.” We could become the victory for those around us.
pain into glory
We could gain the glory of Christ.
Through (the witness’) suffering, not only has all suffering acquired a meaning, but it has been given the power to become itself the sign, the sacrament, the proclamation, the ‘coming’ of that victory; the defeat of man, his very dying, has become a way of Life. ~ Schmemann
This is the way of God. Flipping the things of this world on their head. Pain becomes proclamation. Suffering becomes sacrament. Defeat becomes victory. Death becomes life.
Don’t settle for a dry crust when you could feast with the King.
Surrender to God, to whatever he wants to do through your suffering, and allow his Holy Spirit to transform that suffering into a sacrament of life.
defeat becomes victory
It takes submission, and this is hard. So very hard. Yet God has promised. Your surrender to him allows him to turn your defeat into victory, and that victory leads you into the only true healing.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

Art credits: Resurrection by Luca Giordano; all other photographs are copyright Made Sacred 2020

The Truer Truth

loss
You who are hurting,
suffering,
waiting,
grieving;
You who have experienced
loss after loss after loss;
Grief
You who have wondered about God,
turned away from God,
wept tears of anguish and rage before God;
You are seen.
You are known.
You are loved.
If I could sit with you, listen to you, hold your face gently in my hands and look into your eyes, this is what I would tell you:
There are two truths I want you to know, to grip tightly with both fists, to let sink down into your deepest, most raw and wounded places.
The first truth? Jesus is with you in your darkest places.
There is no hell you walk through that can keep Jesus from being beside you, before you, behind you, in you.
There are no tears you shed that are not shared by Jesus.
There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that can separate you from Love.
sorrow
The second truth? There is a reality that is deeper and more real than whatever you are going through.
Your hurt, your grief, your pain is very real. It would be foolish to pretend that the brokenness is not true.
And there is something truer. There is a truth that is more real, more lasting than any suffering you may endure.
Revelation is all about showing us the truer things behind the true thing. God draws back the curtain for John so that he can see the truest things.
The true thing for John?
The Church is being persecuted, tortured, killed. Evil appears to be winning the day.
The truer thing?
God shows John the Bride of the Lamb. He says, “Let me show you the beauty, the radiance, the glory of my Church, my Bride, as she reflects the glory and beauty of her Lord. This is what my Church looks like. This is who she really is.”
And this is what is truest for you.
Beneath all the dark and ugly and broken, you are the perfect, radiant Beloved one of God.
You are Beloved.
Regardless of what you see or feel, grip with all your strength to this truest truth ~ you are his Beloved.

suffering

And all of this suffering you are enduring right now? All of this pain and sorrow and loss?
All of it will be redeemed, will be transformed into something beautiful.
It probably won’t happen in the way or in the timing you hope for, and that certainly is a hard truth.
But that hard truth does not take away the truer truth that even if God does not heal anything here on this earth (And he might. Oh, he might!), the moment you look upon the face of Jesus, see his scars suffered for you and see the love streaming out of his eyes, all of this hard will melt away like the morning mist before the rising sun.
truer truth
Because the truest thing of all is that right now Jesus is with you and right now you are his Beloved.
Hold onto that and do not ever let it go.
To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

Art credits: Grief by Daniel Kornbau; Grief by Bertram Mackennal; Rabboni by Gutzon Borglum; sunrise by Kirk Sewell; broken Jonquil by Elizabeth Giger

Finding the Beauty in Tension and Delay

I once heard a story about a company that allows you to rent a grandma.
waiting
I was intrigued and turned up the volume to learn more. I learned that you can rent a grandma of your own ethnicity who can teach you about your roots. She will teach you your traditions and will teach you how to cook your ethnic foods.
delay
As I smiled to myself and thought about the silliness of the idea of renting a grandma to try to fill a space that can only be truly filled by someone who has known you from birth, who knows your good and your bad and yet loves you anyway, my mind drifted off to what I might wish to pay someone to accomplish for me.
Cleaning my home. Birthdays. Decorating my home. Planning a vacation.
The more I dreamed about not having to do any of those things anymore, however, the more it occurred to me that perhaps hiring someone to plan a birthday party or to do all the planning for a vacation so that I do not have to give any thought to it is not really all that different from paying someone to be a grandma.
Both are about avoiding a process that might be a bit messy and difficult, as well as trying to achieve a result that will be more perfect than what I am able to accomplish on my own.
messiness
Yet if I search my own memories of childhood, or if I ask my own kids what they love and remember most, it is that very same messy process and not-so-perfect ending that bring the most smiles and laughter. Perhaps, if I truly want a beautiful party or an inviting home, the only way to really get that is for my family to journey through the process together.
tension
Later, as I watched my girls with their finger paints, I couldn’t help but wonder if these ideas in my head about process and journey are perhaps true for more than just the activities in my life.
Perhaps they are true for life itself.
When faced with the ugliness that can be found in this life, in this world, I often echo John’s words: E’en so, Lord Jesus, quickly come.
I wonder why there has been so much delay between our salvation and our redemption.
time
I sat at the piano and played through a bit of Bach.
As I played, the music reminded me that time is good. That delay can bring out beauty. That tension makes the release infinitely more beautiful than could be had otherwise.
Music challenges the belief that the longer something takes, the worse it will be…Music, in a very concentrated way, tells us that something can take time AND be good. Music takes time to be what it is, and as such can be glorious. It can remind us that it is not a failing of the created world that it reaches its fulfillment only through time. This is part of the way God made things. The created world takes time to be what it is. ~ Jeremy Begbie in Resounding Truth
I need this reminder.
I want to look for the purpose in this time we have here, especially in these hard days. I want to see the beauty in the way God created our world to need time in order to become as He intends.
I want to enjoy God’s glorious ending (beginning?) when God will make his dwelling among us, when there will be no more tears, when we will forever enjoy the beauty of the new heaven and new earth.

Listen and revel in the way the music takes us through the delay, the messiness, and the tension of time on into a glorious ending.
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edited from the archives

This I Still Declare To Be True

We recently passed the anniversary of the death of my sister-in-law. Nine years. I wrote this essay when she died, yet in the middle of a pandemic, of political and racial unrest, of an election season, of economic downturns, in the middle of friends and family who are suffering, these words still ring true. It’s been a couple of years since I posted this. May these words bless you deeply.
The Word of Life
God’s Words tell us clearly that there is pain, there is heartbreak in this world.  We should not be surprised.
More often than not, God chooses not to save His people, chooses not to spare them sorrow and hardship.  Hebrews 11 gives a long list of those who were killed or lost ones they loved, Jesus’ closest friends died martyr’s deaths, even His earthly father died without His intervention.
I have pondered long and hard this question of what I believe about God in the midst of it wasn’t supposed to be like this.  Here is my conclusion.
Ocean Waves
I know my God, His character, well enough to trust Him when I don’t understand, when I cannot see in the darkness.  I know, from what He has said about Himself and from what I have seen, that He is always good and always love.  I know that, if we only knew the reasons, we would adore Him for what He does.
God promises that we will have trouble in this world.  He also promises that if we are grateful to Him He will give us peace.  He doesn’t promise that He will take the pain away but that we will be at peace, that we will have joy.
Isn’t that a much bigger promise?
No matter what, God is still God.
Will I only praise and thank Him when He does what I like?  Will I only accept from Him what I deem to be good?
When I deeply think through the idea of declaring my circumstance to be bad, it seems incredibly arrogant.
How can I think that I know better than God what is good?  How am I more capable of naming something to be good than the One who is good?
Will I trust that God has a beautiful, amazing plan only when I can see the beauty of it?  Either God is God, and capable of having plans and reasons that I cannot comprehend, or He isn’t God, and I am silly for blaming a myth. There is not really any in-between place for the things with which I do not agree.
…if I go to Jesus, he’s not under my control either.  He lets things happen that I don’t understand. He doesn’t do things according to my plan, or in a way that makes sense to me.  But if Jesus is God, then he’s got to be great enough to have some reasons to let you go through things you can’t understand.  His power is unbounded, but so are his wisdom and love…He can love somebody and still let bad things happen to them, because he is God–because he knows better than they do.  If you have a God great enough and powerful enough to be mad at because he doesn’t stop your suffering, you also have a God who’s great enough and powerful enough to have reasons that you can’t understand.
King’s Cross by Timothy Keller
 God is God, and since he is God, he is worthy of my worship and my service.  I will find rest nowhere else but in his will, and that will is necessarily infinitely, immeasurable, unspeakable beyond my largest notions of what he is up to. ~ Elisabeth Elliot
Aslan
can trust God, trust in His nature.
Of course he’s not safe.  Who said anything about being safe?  But he’s good.  He’s the king. ~ Mr. Beaver as told to C.S. Lewis in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
 Fiery Furnace
When faced with the fiery furnace, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego told King Nebuchadnezzar that
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king.  But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. ~ Daniel 3
When Job lost all of his children and all that he owned and was himself in great physical pain, he declared
Though he slay me, yet will I hope in Him. ~ Job 13.15
No matter what, I will praise God and offer Him my gratitude, my sacrifice of praise.
God tells us over and over in His word that He has a beautiful purpose for humanity and creation as a whole.
And that he has a beautiful purpose for each of our lives.
Sometimes I doubt this promise, this truth.
And then I look at Jesus, at His cross.
Bearing the Cross
I’ve been clinging to Romans 8.32 through all of this:
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
If God ever had to prove Himself, prove His love for us, prove that He is taking care of us, He has more than proved it all through the cross.
I can trust God, trust in His love.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about Hezekiah.
In II Kings 20, he pleaded with God to “change his story”, to give him more life when God had told him (through Isaiah) that he was going to die.  God did change His mind that time, gave him fifteen more years of life.
And in that fifteen extra years, Hezekiah’s son Manasseh was born.  This son who wouldn’t have been born if Hezekiah hadn’t asked God to change the ending of his story ended up as king and “lead (Israel) astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the LORD had destroyed before the Israelites”. ~ II Kings 21.9
Our desired story ending versus God’s desired story ending.
Perhaps, just perhaps, God really does know best.  Perhaps He does know which story will bring about a beautiful, redeemed, transfigured people.
Light Shines Through
When through the deep waters I call you to go,
The rivers of woe shall not overflow;
For I will be with you, your troubles to bless,
And sanctify to you your deepest distress.
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.
~ How Firm a Foundation, att. John Keith, 1787 (modernized)
To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

credit for images: Lion photo, painting by Simeon SolomonCross photo

Look Up and See the Wind

There is a lot of hard and ugly bearing down on us in these days.
The Wind of Love
It weighs on our hearts and our shoulders, pressing us down and down.
Our heads are bowed, hanging over our screens, and what comes out of our screens drags our hearts deeper into the mire.
Our news, our social media, even our friendships and families, so much feels like too much.
As though darkness is taking over the light.
As though grief is winning over joy.
As though the dark clouds are so thick and so encompassing we cannot see the next step to take.
All that we see and hear surrounds us and obscures a deeper and even more true reality.
The Wind of Love
With a bowed head, with eyes that are only looking to the dark cloud of words all around, it is easy to believe that the hard and ugly is all there is and all there ever will be.
We must look up, must pull our gaze away from all that we can see with our eyes and fix our eyes instead on that which is more true, that which is more real than the darkness that assails.
The Wind of Love
We must spend time away from all of the words the world slings at us, even the words hurled by those we love, and be, instead, in silence and stillness with the Word.
When we take time away, take time to lift up our heads and be still, we are more able to see what is true.
Love is still here.
The Wind of Love
Love is still flowing from the heart of God, is still rushing like a wind from the mouth of God, is still blowing away all the filth and ugly that veils our sight.
Love is the Word of God, breathed from the Father straight into the hearts of all who will lift up their heads and receive it.
Love is rushing and blowing all around us, and up from the sweep of Love’s tail feathers
rises hope.
The Wind of Love
To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

Art credits: Shore Reed by Dominicus Johannes Bergsma; Swirling Colour by Adrian van Leen; Wind, Sand, and Stars by Alex Astro; Wind Mountain by James W. Alden; Little Aviator on the Wind by Krzysztof Szkurlatowski

My Psalm of Lament

img_0736
Where are you, Lord, in our affliction?
Why do you hide your face in times of trouble?
Where is your saving arm, your strong right hand
In the face of this microscopic enemy?
I am imprisoned in my own home,
Unable to escape from my children for even a moment.
I snap and yell, I stomp and fuss,
And then I know my guilt, for others
Are facing much worse now and in days to come.
Where are you, O Lord?
Why do you not rise up and stop this virus?
For the sake of your glory, for the sake of your name,
Make this vanish with a word, like the mist before the morning sun.
I am worried about my parents, my in-laws,
All those in my parents’ generation who raised me in their love.
I am anxious about friends who already struggle with their health.
I see people losing jobs and refugees losing even what small place they had,
I see the sick with no room at the hospitals and the lonely and depressed sinking lower.
This disease is coming, coming, coming, and none can stop it but you.
Why do you not come?
You of great love and great power, you alone have the means to deliver us.
Why have you removed your saving hand?
Where are you, Lord, in our darkness?
I see the answer when I gaze at the cross.
You are here.
Our tears are your tears. Our pain is your pain.
Our grief is your grief. Our suffering is your suffering.
You who have every right to the glory of heaven
Have chosen to be with us in all of our sorrow.
I see your presence in the face of my girls,
In the hands of my husband,
In the eyes of my neighbor.
I see your presence in the coming together,
In the surrounding each other,
In the laying down of what we once held dear.
Teach us, O Lord, what is most important.
Teach us to treasure what your heart treasures.
Help us to slow down and give up,
To give each other our time and full attention,
To be still and quiet with you.
Teach us to know that you are God.
We are your people, your very own sheep.
Help us to open our hands and let go
Of that which we have grasped too tightly.
Help us to rearrange our hearts and priorities until
They more closely align with yours.
Help us not to waste these days but
To use them to more fully love you,
To more fully love each other,
To more fully love those who don’t yet know you.
We trust your heart toward us.
With your strength, we will use this time wisely,
To number our days and gain wisdom.
We will give rather than hoard.
We will serve rather than weep.
We will search for you in the small bits of beauty
You have scattered all around us.
We will praise you and give thanks
In this as in the most perfect of times,
For you are our God and have promised to never forsake us.
You have promised that a day is coming when all of this pain will fade,
When all of this sorrow will disappear
Like the morning dew when the heat of the sun arrives.
We trust in your promise and will wait patiently for you.
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

You Still Have a Choice, Even in This Crisis

Despite this strange new normal in which we find ourselves, we are still in the season of Lent.
lent
The Church continues on with her year, regardless of what is happening around her.
Lent is a season of giving up, of denying yourself for the purpose of becoming more unified with the Spirit of Christ.
Most of us, no matter where in the world we live, find ourselves being forced to give up.
Give up freedoms, give up financial stability, give up plans and dreams for the next few months.
As with any time of suffering, I do not mean to imply that God caused this. We live in a broken world.
But He did allow it.
broken world
And, as with any time of suffering, He is asking us what we are going to do with it.
It is vitally important for our life-with-God to be still before Him. We must spend much time gazing at Jesus and being filled up by His Spirit through silence and solitude, among other things.
When we do this, we have His peace and His joy deep within us. We are sheltered in our Home, and we emerge safely on the other side of whatever grief and pain may come our way, though perhaps a bit battered and wind-torn.
Jesus spoke of suffering that is used by God.
In the parable of the vine, He said that every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
Andrew Murray writes that we should be moved by our abiding in Christ
to hear in each affliction the voice of a messenger that comes to call them to abide still more closely. Yes, believer, most specially in times of trial, abide in Christ…abide in Christ in times of affliction and you shall bring forth more fruit.
James, the brother of Jesus, also speaks of suffering that is used by God. He makes so bold as to instruct us to count suffering as pure joy.
What could there be, what could there possibly be in the valley of the deepest dark that could be counted as joy?
James does not leave us sinking into despair.
He answers with the answer we have been aiming towards from the beginning: our suffering, when we choose to continue to abide in Christ in the middle of it, leads to nothing less than being made perfect and complete.
What will be your choice?
We can choose.
We can choose in our pain to more fully make our home in Jesus or to step outside of Him. The way we choose to respond to suffering matters.
Over and over, Scripture tells us that the choices we make in this life ripple forward into the next.
What we do with the ebbs and flows in our lives matter. From interruptions to worries, from marriage to loss, every choice we make in response to our circumstances is changing us.
Changing the very essence of ourselves into something different than what we are now.
C. S. Lewis said it best.
Taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself.
Choosing to live out Holy Habits, daily activities like Scripture reading and prayer, solitude and silence, are how God the Holy Spirit transforms us into people of His Kingdom.
People who, by obedience and love, are helping the Kingdom, God’s rule, to break through here and now.
People who are at home in Jesus.
Choose time with Jesus
So may I make a suggestion?
We have all been required to give up most of our normal activities. By all means, fill up some of that time with books and movies, but perhaps take some of that time to just sit in silence with God.
This can be a frightening thing to do, especially in our particular circumstances. Sitting quietly with your thoughts and emotions can feel hard.
Yet God has promised to always be with us, to give us a peace and a joy that goes beyond any circumstance. But we must trust Him enough to give Him those thoughts and emotions, trust Him enough to be still before Him.
We do not need to pretend in our times with Him. We do not need to act as though everything were okay, as though we were okay, as though anything in our entire world were okay.
It is good to lament before the Lord.
We need to lament to Him when all around us feels as though it were falling apart.
Scripture is full of lament.
We are at a loss what to do, hence our eyes are turned toward you. (2 Chronicles 20:12)
My soul, too, is utterly terrified; but you, O Lord, how long…? (Psalm 6:4).
Why, O Lord, do you stand aloof? Why hide in times of distress? (Psalm 10:1)
In the next couple of days, will you find some time to go hide in a bedroom or take a walk alone outside? Just be still before God and try to be silent. Take a name of God that is meaningful to you or a phrase such as “Lord, have mercy” to use when you need to bring your thoughts back under control.
Try to make this a regular part of your routine.
Will you also write your own Psalm of Lament over all that you are experiencing right now?
It is an act of faith to pour out our fear and hurt to God.
If you want to share it with someone, I would love to read it. You can email me at Elizabeth@MadeSacred.com
This can also be just between you and God.
May God grant you His incomprehensible peace and His deep, abiding joy even in the middle of all that we are experiencing right now.
May He grant you what you need more than anything else – a real sense of His own presence.
May He grant you Himself.
Let God give you Himself
To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

All photographs copyright Made Sacred 2020

Come and See

We all have had, or will have, grief.
grief
Soul-shaking, heart-wrenching, self-shattering grief.
Come and see, we tell Jesus.
Come and see my deepest pain.
pain
Why didn’t You fix this? Why didn’t You stop this before it happened? Why weren’t You here?
Come and see, Mary said after her brother had died.
Come and see where they have laid him.
sorrow
Why didn’t You fix this? Why didn’t You stop this before it happened? Why weren’t You here?
Jesus’ response to Mary is the same response He has to us when we lead Him into our innermost sorrow.
He bursts into tears.
He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. (Isaiah)
suffering
Jesus does not look at us in the middle of our weeping and tell us to cheer up, for He has everything under control.
He does not tell us to get a grip on ourselves and to just trust Him, for heaven’s sake.
There is, rather, the man of sorrows, acquainted with our grief and pain, sharing and bearing it to the point of tears. ~ N. T. Wright
He bursts into tears right along with us, coming into our sorrow and bearing the burden with us.
Come and see, we tell Him.
Come and see where I have suffered my greatest pain.
Come and see, He tells us in reply.
Come and see
Come and see,
and He leads us through our grief into a place of love and peace and resurrection,
a place where He now dwells in the light and glory of a new day.
The new day is dawning; and, though where we live the night can be very dark, and the tears very bitter, there is light and joy waiting not far away. ~ N. T. Wright
Come and see.

 

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all photographs are copyright Made Sacred 2019

A Whisper from God

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Some of the sparkle and light went out of our world on Wednesday when little Calla died.
Calla
I will come clean and admit that I do not understand God at times like these.
Why do I get to kiss my almost-nine little girl tonight and Calla’s parents go home with empty arms?
Why does one child gain his mother back cancer-free and another child grows up without a mom?
Why does one family receive the miracle of a healing and another family receives heart-break?
no miracle
We live in a broken world.
A world broken and distorted by sin.
Our sin.
This sickness and pain and loneliness and death?
This is not how it was supposed to be.
This is NOT how it was supposed to be.
In the Beginning
We should lament and wail and grieve, because this is not the way God created us or our world.
And the miracles that do happen?
Perhaps they are a whisper from God.
A whisper that says Remember.
miracle
Remember how it was in the beginning.
Remember how it was created to be and remember how it will be again someday.
Remember what we are straining toward.
Remember what creation is groaning for.
Remember.
glimpse of hope
Perhaps the miracles that happen, whether or not they happen to you, are a glimpse of light,
a glimpse of hope,
a glimpse of
Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore…Behold, I am making all things new.
miracle is coming
A glimpse of the day when the miracle will be standard fare for all of us.
E’en so, Lord Jesus, quickly come.

Art credits: Adam and Eve by Foster; all other photographs except the one of Calla are copyright Made Sacred 2019

Finding God in the Darkness

To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

 

Where is God when your world falls apart?
When your pleas seem unheard, when the horror seems to increase, when God Himself seems to have withdrawn into the darkness,
where do we find God?
Meet Calla.
Calla
Calla
The Woods
Calla is a nine year old girl full of sparkle and light, full of love and joy.
Until now.FightingUntil now when she is fighting for her life against the darkness of aggressive, rapidly growing tumors in her brain.
Where is God when your world falls apart?
Here.
He is right here.broken
Emmanuel.
God with us.
Jesus promised us crosses. We are to expect them.
And He also promised us empty tombs in the end.
It may not happen until the end, but He gave His word that He would make those tombs empty again.
So we must remember.
This is beyond hard when your baby girl is fighting for her life, yet Calla’s parents, Ben and Crystal, are also fighting hard.
love
love
Fighting hard to remember,
to remember that God broke into time to show us that the empty tomb will always follow the cross.
In the words of Corrie ten Boom from the hell of a Nazi concentration camp: No matter how deep our darkness, he is deeper still.
broken with us
And if that were not enough, if the promise of the rising sun melting away these sorrows like the morning dew were not enough,
He also promised to be with us through it all.
This is what Calla’s parents are fighting to shine into their darkness –
that God is good and He is with us.
When it feels as though life is beating you into the ground, when the weight of your burden does not allow you to rise from your bed in the morning, when you cannot carry your cross for one more step, you can know that He is here with you, carrying your cross with you, taking your burden on Himself.
Every tear we shed becomes His tear. He may not yet wipe them away, but He makes them His. Would we rather have our own dry eyes, or His tear-filled ones?
He came to us. He is here with us. We can be certain of Emmanuel in all circumstances.
Job learned this in a very real way.
When he wanted to know why his world was burning to ashes around him, God showed Job the wonders of the zoological world and the stunning beauties of the galaxies and told him, I did this!
When Job wanted, even demanded, an answer from God, God gave him something much more beautiful than a simple answer.
He gave Job the same answer that He gives to all who ask, to all who seek: Himself.
And when we declare all of this – His goodness and power, His love and His with us,
then God is glorified and our hearts are nourished.
If He does not heal all our broken bones and loves and lives now, He comes into them and is broken, like bread, and we are nourished.
the gift of Himself
Our Bread of Life, broken for us, will nourish us. He will never leave us.
broken for us
Will you join me in praying for Calla and her family? Pray for a miracle of healing to bring God all the glory, of course, and also pray for peace and joy and a tangible sense of God’s presence in the middle of this darkness to bring God all the glory.
I have only done this once before in my eight years of writing in this space, but would you consider giving a little to help my friends, as they wait? The waiting is so hard, especially when you have two other children back home in another state, especially when you must leave your work to wait with your girl. You can give by clicking here. If you want to stay updated on Calla and the ways in which God is being glorified by her family, click here.
Calla
my friends, the Woods
Thank you for praying. And may the peace of God be with you wherever you may be.
On Another’s Sorrow 
by William Blake
Can I see anothers woe,
And not be in sorrow too.
Can I see anothers grief,
And not seek for kind relief.
Can I see a falling tear
And not feel my sorrows share,
Can a father see his child,
Weep, nor be with sorrow fill’d.
Can a mother sit and hear,
An infant groan an infant fear—
No no never can it be.
Never never can it be.
And can he who smiles on all
Hear the wren with sorrows small,
Hear the small birds grief & care
Hear the woes that infants bear—
And not sit beside the nest
Pouring pity in their breast,
And not sit the cradle near
Weeping tear on infants tear.
And not sit both night & day,
Wiping all our tears away.
O! no never can it be.
Never never can it be.
He doth give his joy to all.
He becomes an infant small.
He becomes a man of woe
He doth feel the sorrow too.
Think not, thou canst sigh a sigh,
And thy maker is not by.
Think not thou canst weep a tear,
And thy maker is not near.
O! he gives to us his joy,
That our grief he may destroy
Till our grief is fled & gone
He doth sit by us and moan.

All photographs not of Calla and her family are copyright Made Sacred 2019

Quotes are from Peter Kreeft