Tag Archives: Jesus

Pondering the Why of Suffering

When Jesus and his disciples encountered the man born blind as recorded in John 9, the disciples wanted to know why he’d been born blind. Was it the man’s sin or his parents’ sin that had caused this tragedy?

Why me? Why her? It’s a question we all ask in the face of tragedy and suffering. I know I do. Why did my mom have cancer not once, but three times? Why did her dad die of cancer when she was only 14? Why did my sister die of cancer at only 61?

Why was I raped by someone I thought I could trust when I was only 14? Why was I faced with the impossible situation of a teen pregnancy because of being raped again when I was only 17? Was all this tragedy ordained by God to make me the person I am today? Would I have been less compassionate and more judgmental if I’d never experienced all the suffering I have?

I have a friend who is a Christian and yet she lacks empathy and compassion. Her words reveal the pride and judgment of others that flow from her heart. She hasn’t experienced the trauma I have or anything close to it as far as I can tell. I wonder if I would have been just like her—legalistic and critical—if I’d been spared the fertile soil of suffering that mercy needs to grow.

Or perhaps my suffering and my mother’s suffering are God’s punishment for the sins of her parents, my grandparents, or even earlier generations. There is certainly scripture to support the conclusion that God punishes the children for the sins of the parents even to multiple generations.

Then again, my own suffering may have been the result of my own sin. The first time I was raped happened in large part because I disobeyed my parents and hung out with the guy who did it. And after that it was one sin after another that led to more suffering.

I’ll probably never know why this side of Heaven. I can speculate until I’m blue in the face and never know for sure. So perhaps it’s most profitable to stop asking why and focus on the next part of the story of the man born blind.

Jesus answers His disciples, saying that the man was born blind that God might be glorified. Then He heals the man. He gives the man who had never seen so much as a blade of grass full sight. He took the man’s utter darkness and gave him light.

He did the same for me and that’s what matters. He healed my brokenness that He might be glorified. I’ll admit that there are days when even that answer can cause tears of anger to well up in my eyes. Couldn’t there have been an easier way for God to be glorified than for me to struggle under the weight of multiple traumas?

Then I remember the story of Joseph who was sold into slavery by his own brothers, thrown into jail by Pharaoh for a betrayal he didn’t commit, and then ultimately raised to a position of power in Egypt. When his brothers came to him for food in time of famine, fearing he would punish them for the wrong they had committed against him, Joseph responded: “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:19-20 (NIV).

I ponder that perhaps God intended the harm that has befallen me for good, to accomplish great things for Him. This helps me let go of the “why” questions and focus on where I can encourage others who have been through similar circumstances and haven’t yet found His healing light. Perhaps I can even be used by God to save many lives.

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Growing Peace in Forgiveness

Each time I see a Facebook post or Internet meme stating that abortion is murder, calling on us to save the babies, I feel a pang of anger. It’s not that I disagree with this truth. I do not. I know the medical facts that show that a baby has a heartbeat as early as 4 weeks after conception and can feel pain as early as 20 weeks after conception. It is even possible for a baby born only 23 weeks after conception to survive outside the womb.

I know all too well this truth. My anger comes from two places.

First, I am angry that the doctors and nurses at the clinic where my abortion was performed didn’t share that information with me. I’m angry that they didn’t provide me with choices or give me the opportunity to make an informed choice. I’m angry that they didn’t ask how I got pregnant. I was raped, but that didn’t concern them. I am angry that the supposed pro-choice movement in this country continues to lie to and withhold facts from women facing crisis pregnancies.

Second, I am angry that the pro-life movement spends so much time focusing on the babies that they often forget the women (or quite often young girls) who have been traumatized by the abortion industry, having believed the lie that an abortion was the only answer to their crisis pregnancy.

But then I feel God’s Spirit remind me that anger and vengeance are not mine. What is mine is forgiveness. And when I focus on God’s forgiveness, knowing He understands my regret and desires to heal my broken heart, peace begins to grow in my heart.

This is when I realize that God doesn’t call me to try to change the hearts and minds of those who are pro-choice or to condemn the methods of those who are pro-life. What God calls me to do is to bring His message of mercy and forgiveness to women, like me, who have endured the trauma of abortion and sometimes feel like there will never be peace.

There is peace. It is found in Jesus, who died to pay for all our sins, including the murder of our children. He will forgive all. His forgiveness will grow peace in our hearts when we let Him.

Are you among the millions of women who have had an abortion because you believed you had no other choice? Were you pressured by your boyfriend or husband, or perhaps even by an abuser? Were you single, with insufficient income to care for a child, and felt there was no other choice? Did you see your whole life’s plan ahead of you, a plan that didn’t have room for a child, and were told you had no other choice?

Do you live now with regret and heartache over the child you aborted? Do you struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts but don’t know why because you’ve buried the guilt over your abortion so deep you aren’t even consciously aware of it? Do you long to be closer to God but somehow feel that you will never be good enough for Him?

Dear one, you are not alone and you are loved. You are not the mistakes you have made and the wrongs you have done. You are loved by God and He desires to heal your deepest pain and hurt, to bring you forgiveness and peace. You only need to lay this burden—a burden that is much too heavy for you to bear alone—at the feet of Jesus. His truth and love will set you free to live in His peace.

Here are some resources to help you:

Silent No More Awareness

Eternal Perspective Ministries

The Radiance Foundation

Walk for Life

Lifecall – Directory of pregnancy resource centers

CareNet – Pregnancy resource centers

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Silent Whisper

I hear her whisper in the darkness
Sometimes in the light
I hear her giggle from beneath
the frilly dresses at Costco
Can I have one, Mommy?

She’s not really there
I silenced her voice
thirty-five years ago
But Jesus whispers, She’s with me

______________________________

For Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub the word of the day is whisper. Head on over and check out the many Quadrilles offered by the regulars and maybe some newcomers.

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Messy Presents

We want our presents in pretty paper
All wrapped up in a shiny neat bow
We want our faith to be the same
So our doubts and struggles never show

Yet the greatest gifts aren’t neat and tidy
Like the manger birth steeped in blood
A child born like any other babe
With the addition of dirty stable mud

And Christ’s willing sacrifice on the cross
After flogging caused welts and spit adorned
The bleeding brow of the King of kings
Ringed by crowds who mocked and scorned

Each trial and loss we face in life
Can draw us closer to the God we need
If we don’t bury the doubts that rise
But seek the gift each death has freed

Open the messy presents He gives
To find healing for all of life’s woes
Remember when you grieve the most
The Babe born to die for you knows

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My One-Note Song

Last summer I entered my first poetry book, Light in My Darknessin the Writers Digest Self Published Book Awards contest. Riding high on the coattails of being named a finalist in the Cascade Writers Contest in the published poetry category, I decided to submit my book on the last possible day of the contest and see what happened. I didn’t really expect to win, but I thought the feedback I would receive might be valuable.

I received an email with the judge’s comments just yesterday. I was a bit surprised to find that my submission was only read by one judge. Given the price tag on entering and the national scope of the contest I figured they’d have at least two judges per book.

At any rate, I thought I’d share the less-than-glowing review here with you all. I know, it seems weird to share a review that doesn’t just rave about my book, but I do so for a reason. Although the judge found fault with my labor of love, it was the very fault that he or she found that made me smile. Here’s the review, copied and pasted with grammatical errors and all, with my favorite part in bold:

Judge’s Commentary*:

This book of Christian devotional poetry is written by a woman who pulled herself up from the depths of depression through faith, and she should be admired for it. I also appreciate is that the poet uses many different forms of poetry to express herself:  pantoums, sonnets, villanelles, cinquains, triolets, sestinas, ghazals, acrostics, and even a concrete poem, as well as other rhymed verse and free verse.

My problem with this 127-page book is that it is composed almost entirely of poems of praise, and after a while it becomes a one-note song. The entire first section uses the metaphor of darkness into light to describe her salvation and coming up from depression. One can say the same thing only so many ways. There are five more sections to the book, on themes of “bring light to the darkness of others”, “being set free from the past”, forgiveness, “god in the midst of pain and suffering”, and a last section of what I would describe as “pure praise”.  Recurring themes come up in poem after poem: darkness vs. light, Jesus vs. Satan, “jars of clay”, etc. Most of the poems have an addendum of a Scripture quote too. Also, the poet chooses to label the type of poetic form beneath the title of most of these poems. This isn’t necessary, and many rhymed poems here are mislabeled as “free verse.”  The book conveys its message through its cover too – a kneeling figure on a cliff looking up to an image of a cross on a mountainside. The type size is quite large- was it meant to be a “large-print” book ? (I’m not asking this facetiously.) The bio and blurbs on the back cover are well-presented.

Granted, I am not a devout person, so maybe I don’t take the message to heart as a more religious person would. Still, I think even a faithful reader may find this book a bit repetitive after the first twenty or thirty pages.  My advice to the author: Use your interest in poetic forms to your best advantage, and diversify your themes and subjects. There is so much you can say from a perspective of faith about nature, your family and friends, social issues, even your career.  Don’t be afraid to bring in more details of your life and less of the language of praise, and your next book may be even better.

I am thrilled that this reader saw my praise of God so prominently in my poetry. If that is my one-note song, I’ve succeeded in doing what God has called me to do. I’ll keep singing that song until the day I die. To those struggling with depression, I want to clearly reveal the love and hope of Jesus so that they might one day praise Him, too, for being the Light in their darkness.

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Prayer Sparks

Despair sparks desperation
sends me to my knees
I want to cry
I don’t know why
Sobbing turns to prayer
deep in my soul

Mercy sparks forgiveness
sends me to my knees
I find healing
for this desperate feeling
Life that makes me whole

———
This is my writing for Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub. The word for today is spark.

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Light Shines in the Shadows

Lurking in the shadows
of my mind, of my heart

Anger, hatred, fear, doubt
dwell where they think
they escape the light

I dare not enter
the shadows alone

With Light in hand
I reveal that which hides
in the shadows
of my soul

________________________

It’s Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub once again and De has assigned us the word “shadow” for our 44-word tomes. Head on over and see what others have to say about their shadow or shadows.

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Missing You

It never leaves
the pain, the heartache
of losing one so dear

Or one who should have been dear
but for youth and shame
that kept me
from truly knowing
and being known by you

I hid so much from you
I didn’t let you be there for me
as a mom should be

It’s not your fault
I know that now
but then I was afraid
I would disappoint you

Even at 23 your love
seemed scarce
but was only hidden
behind my own doubts and fears

If you were here today
I would tell you how much I love you
I’d share the love of Jesus with you
tell you how He opened my eyes
to your love that I could never see

I would celebrate with you
I’d make you your favorite pecan pie
with fresh whipped cream for your birthday
just as you always made my favorite
lemon meringue for my birthday
We’d marvel that you made it 90 years

But you didn’t, so we won’t
I’ll just miss you like I always do

___________________________________

Shared for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub. Head on over and see what others have to share.

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Safety of Your Wing

Here in the shadow of Your wing
I am safe
Safe to rejoice
Safe to weep and mourn

Here in the shadow of Your wing
I am secure
Secure in my future
Secure from the former things

Here in the shadow of Your wing
I will rest
Rest in peace
Rest in harmony and grace

I seek You and I find love
Here in the shadow of Your wing

___________________________

At dVerse Poets Pub today, Victoria is calling for poems about feathers, wings, or birds. At first I was going to write about bald eagles, which remind me of my mom. But then when I went to get lunch the song “Shadow of Your Wings” by Casting Crowns came on my iPod in the car and it gave me the idea for this poem instead.

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Gospel Clerihews

The apostle John
dropped his nets at dawn
followed Jesus with the ten
all became fishers of men

*********

Simon’s son Judas
by his betrayal showed us
it’s not enough to meet God
if a different path we trod

*********

Today’s Form for All prompt at dVerse Poets Pub is a lesson the Clerihew. I just started an in-depth study of the book of John so thought I’d write about a couple of famous people from that book. Head on over the dVerse to see who others are writing about in short verse.

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