Sorrow And Joy

IMG_3637Photo by Gabrielle Allman

Can you  be grateful for everything that has happened in your life-not just for the good things but for all that has brought you to this day? Remember, it was the suffering of God’s Son that brought forth a family of people known as Christians.  My own suffering is what God used to bring me to where I am today.

Right in the middle of the tears, the dance of joy can be felt. Seen from below, from a human perspective, there is an enormous distinction between good times and bad, between sorrow and joy. but from above, in the eyes of God, sorrow and joy are never separated. Where there is pain, there is also healing.  Henri Nouwen

I found an old photo album that I had made my husband for his 4oth birthday.  I had asked people to write him notes or letters of how he affected their life. I peppered the letters with pictures of the writers and our family. Looking upon it made me smile and I was so grateful that I had the thoughtfulness of mind to do that when I did, for our mothers are no longer here with us. Their letters are especially special!

But looking at the album also brought a deep sense of gravity to all of the trials and tribulations we have been through. There have been so many, down- right, ongoing, hard times, with little release. I haven’t always handle them with grace. I have had an emotional break down and I have tried escaping. I understand what Nouwen is saying about our perceived distinction between good times and bad times.  And I can also bear witness to what was the apparent worst time of my life, bringing the exact change and healing that I needed.

We are all on this journey together. We can help each other become more grateful for life even with pain. God is hidden in the pain and suffering of the world, and we get to reach out in compassion and show our love to others…that is the point<3

 

 

In A Storm

hurricane

With all of the hurricanes that have been hitting the US lately, and as I consider how frightening these times can be for people who are hit the hardest, I have been thinking about the storms I have weathered.

When you are in a storm of this magnitude, you have to keep your head about you and stay focused or you literally could be swept away. I remember a particular time when the circumstances of my life were in such a complete mess and the fall out from it was creating a storm, of such proportion, that I could have become completely emotionally impaired. My husband, George, had been speaking with a person whom we always respected and cared about very deeply, but the man was creating such waves out of his own fears, that my husband and I nearly drown in them.

One particular day, my husband was relaying a conversation to me that he had with this man earlier in the day. My husband was tired and distraught and so was I. As George was speaking, I started to feel that I was actually getting slapped by one enormous wave after another. With every question and accusation the man had posed to him from their earlier conversation, George’s voice actually started to fade into the background even though he was standing right in front of me. Next, my eyes started to glaze and I felt as if the pressure was starting to pull me under the water and I was literally starting to gasp with no strength to resurface. Right at that point, I heard the voice of Jesus clear as a bell; “JULIA!, Look at ME, listen to ME, follow ME!  I actually looked up to where I thought the voice was coming from. The roaring waves immediately turned into serene, foamy, level water! I came to my senses and with a clarity I had not known until that very point and I was able to be in complete peace and not be anxious. The storm, although I was still in it, was completely calmed as I looked to Jesus. It was truly amazing!

Jesus had done something very similar many, many years before with a man named Peter. Peter was a fisher man. He knew in his head that a man cannot walk on water. But one day when he saw Jesus walking on the water and he asked if he could do it! Jesus told him to come, and he actually did walk on water for a bit, but then it says in Matthew 14:30; “but when he (Peter) saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid and began to sink and cried out, saying, “Lord save me!”

It is natural to be afraid when the storms come whether they be natural or figurative. It goes against our natural inclinations to have faith and hold on to an anchor in the midst of a storm, but that is exactly what we must do. The heroic stories coming from the news tell of just such things during these natural disasters and have the theme of focus and faith all through them. We have to choose not to be afraid and place our grasp firmly on the anchor that will never let us be swept away in a storm.