She wakes up after eight hours curled into a tight ball…pain wrenching her body, consuming the God within her. Pulling open the weighted drapes that keep the winter cold from hitting her headboard at night in an old house, sunshine greets her with a smile. A little worn, a little weary, a little ravaged by an illness trying to suck the life out of her very limbs. She stands, smiling. New day, new hope.
Each night, she closes her eyes, clenching blankets tightly, lulling herself to sleep as if she is holding onto the hem of His garment. Cuz if she can get through the night, He will greet her in the morning and morning may look entirely new. However, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes she has to swallow hard and hold back tears of discouragement when she awakes and everything still hurts.
There is a busy world around her, filled with people worried about small things that seem big, when in reality there are people like her who are fighting to live each day fully and smile while going through the motions. Illness has a way of shredding hope, shredding dreams, shredding plans, shredding futures. Her bedroom, a safe place from the world, the place she takes comfort when pain is too much to bear. Surrounded by pictures of places she dreams of one day going, flowers, things she loves—like the wooden jewelry box with a gold key that her mama bought her, years ago. Marriage vows in a red barn wood frame– etched by a folk artist, trinkets that her children created with small hands while growing through the years, a black and white of grandma and grandpa. These things bring comfort during the dark days of bed rest. A stack of bibles and devotionals with a reading lamp on her nightstand.
Why is it that we pray for things, that we pray for success, affirmation from strangers, and we say that we are doing it to please God? Cuz what really pleases God is a contrite heart, a heart so in love with Him that we forget being known by thousands of people and kneel beside the bed of just one person who is struggling? That’s important ministry…one person at a time. Those people clutching blankets as though they are the hem of His clothing, begging and praying for healing.
Evening falls and it is dark in her room. I go in and light a small lamp. She’s curled up under furry blankets, the kind that bring comfort when everything else hurts.
She has felt it coming on for days, and it gradually gets larger until it washes over her like a tidal wave—three or four days go by and she remembers not much but trying to survive it..the headaches, the blurry eyes and brain fog, the trembling in pain. She too, takes refuge in her bedroom—a place she has made uniquely her own because she spends more time there than most of us can imagine.
For those of us with chronic illness, we need a holy place. Our bedrooms become just that…the place we meet God at our weakest. The places we reconcile, pray, ask, give thanks and cry tears of hopelessness onto our pillows. We have a special wisdom in that we find Glory in small moments. We see God’s goodness and recognize it quickly. We are eager to give thanks and know the fragility of life. We do what we can with what we have and still find joy. We know the wisdom of suffering and can share our compassion with others who are suffering, because we too, have suffered.
There is a God in Heaven who understands our suffering. He is our refuge and an ever-present help in trouble. There is a God filled with mercy who sends seekers to our bedsides, those who on bended knee, usher up whispered prayers to the Host and He comes down to meet us, right where we are. Where hearts are filled with presence. Where we are one-on-one with those who are suffering, contrite hearts, muttering prayers of selflessness from the deepest places because we have forgotten about ourselves and the world around us, if only for a moment. We have connected with the Holy of Holies as our hearts and knees bend with compassion and humility.
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
He says, His power is made perfect in weakness. Not only in physical weakness, but in all our weakness. The weakness of perfectionism, the weakness of approval seeking, the weakness of not even knowing our weakness, spiritual depravity, depression, abuse, pride, hatred and unforgiveness, bitterness, lust, addiction, the love of money. My grace is sufficient. Each of us are fighting battles, but with each new day there is new hope…and the greatest news is that we can start again, sins washed clean. God accepts us new each day. As we pull ourselves out of bed, fighting battles, a little worn, a little weary, a little ravaged, He sees us…one person at a time, begging, praying and tugging on the hem of His garment.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
Suffering makes the rough edges smooth and gives us the wisdom to open our hands and blow seeds of hope to another who is struggling just to hang on…struggling to find joy, struggling to see His goodness. Those seeds of hope covering people who are trapped up in their beds, clenching blankets tightly, those who swallow hard to hold back tears of discouragement when they awake and everything still hurts.
Whatever suffering we endure, the Holy of Holies wants to pick up our shredded hopes, shredded dreams, shredded plans, shredded futures, because he has a plan for each of us and His plan is Perfect. His grace is sufficient for us. His power is made perfect in weakness.