“Leave the broken, irreversible past in God’s hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him.”
– Oswald Chambers
I wrote this poem the other day for ‘Thankful Thursday’ on my own blog. Knowing that many who visit Broken Believers struggle with illness and pain, I thought this would be good to share here as well.
There are plenty of cracked clay pots around this place, and God is in the business of using and healing cracked pots. (And actually, I have to believe that is His preference.)
Our Great Physician
Illness comes to everyone – pain, fever, fatigue, and tears Chronic or acute, it’s such a trial – these clay pots we inhabit are so incredibly fragile even in the hands of the Potter
But our Great Physician provides strength, comfort – Sometimes He brings doctors, nurses, and medication – Wisdom and talents used to do His will, to heal, to mend
Sometimes all it takes is to touch the hem of His robe – Like the woman who bled for twelve long years, outcast one moment, then healed completely and wholly
The greatest good – spiritual health and salvation for the least of us, for all – each clay pot is used to help others as grace leaks out of cracks – Cracks that never seem to heal
Sometimes what the Physician has in store is our ultimate healing – A new body, new life eternal in a place of no more pain, no tears, energy galore – as death brings everyone home
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
“We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about tears lately—in part because Pastor Bryan pointed out to me how many hits my post titled God Keeps Your Tears in a Bottle has had, in part because I’ve cried more than a few tears this year, and in part because I’ve been listening to Johnny Cash’s Cry, Cry, Cry in my car all week—and I thought I’d share my thoughts with you all here.
People cry for a lot of reasons.
Earlier this year my sister died of breast cancer at only 61 years old. I cried, a lot. It’s normal and even helpful to shed tears over the death of a loved one even if we know where they are going when they die, because it allows us to express the grief we feel over not having them in our lives any more here on earth.
I remember a time I had a previous boss say some very cruel things to me in front of other people. She accused me of having done things I had not based on motives I did not have. I was very angry, hurt, and frustrated. And I cried, a lot. I didn’t cry in front of her, mind you, but afterwards I did. And it was good to express that anger to others.
Just yesterday I experienced unexpected tears.
I was reciting the prayers of the people in church, which I’ve done many times. Our church has many prayer concerns for members, family, and friends with health concerns and more. Towards the end of the prayer I began to lift up prayers for a church member’s brother-in-law who is a pastor back in New York because he is faced with conducting the funerals of two teens who had been killed in an accident last week, and with comforting the families of three other teens who are in critical condition.
I unexpectedly had tears in my eyes and my voice cracked praying for these teens and families that I don’t even know. But they were good tears because they touched those who heard my prayer and I know they touched our Lord, too.
I have cried tears of loss, anger, indignation over an injustice, frustration, compassion, and even of joy. I sometimes cry tears of regret when I hear a beautiful song about the sacrifice of Jesus, knowing it is my sin that required him to suffer.
Tears often serve a purpose, as expressed in this poem that I wrote recently:
Tears of sorrow, anger drench my soul course without end eroding pain, anguish
Where once only aching occupied my heart now is a deep empty ravine carved by a river of tears
Tears of forgiveness water my soul’s riverbed allowing flowers of love to flourish and grow
Peace arises in my heart held aloft by God’s promises the fragrance of sweet alyssum blossoms of my soul
I think the saddest tears of all, though, are the tears of major clinical depression. These tears are so sad because the one who cries them doesn’t know what purpose they serve.
I remember when I was suffering from depression sitting in a chair and just crying. When someone asked me why I was crying all I could say was, “I don’t know.” And I truly didn’t. The tears didn’t wash away pain; they only seemed to make it all the worse.
In the midst of such tears, there is One who knows their purpose.
Romans 8:26 says: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Through prayer God can sometimes lead us to an understanding of the purpose of the tears of depression, and ultimately to healing. Often the wounds are so deep it takes years and a great many groaning prayers to heal. But we must accept our weakness and our need for God’s Holy Spirit to intercede for us.
For me, after much prayer of my own, the blessed prayers of others, and the intercession of the Holy Spirit, God led me to an understanding of the purpose of my tears. They were tears of anger and unforgiveness; they were tears of lament that I had allowed myself to remain in bondage to the sins of another for so long.
With God’s help, the tears did lead to healing once I truly understood why I was crying.
May You Know His Peace,
Linda has a good and perceptive blog that touches hearts worldwide. Please do pay her a visit.
Most people who meet me today would never guess the trauma I’ve been through. And when I was drowning the depths of major clinical depression, I couldn’t see it was that trauma that was the catalyst for my misery. I’m not sure I have it all figured out, even now, though it is clearer than it once was.
The thing about my story is that the trauma part is all too common. Rape and abortion are traumas that happen to far too many women (and sometimes men) in this broken world we live in. Healing sometimes feels impossible. But I am living proof that it is not.
Although I still struggle with depression at times, it is quite mild in comparison to what I endured for almost a decade in my late twenties and early thirties. I no longer feel like all hope is lost. In spite of my trauma, I am living and thriving in God’s grace.
That was a long time to be sick. It’s tough to be an invalid year after year. This passage may come to some who have been thus afflicted, and we may as well stop a minute to think through their case. Christian invalids have many comforts if they will but take them to their hearts.
God makes no mistakes in dealing with His children.
He knows in what school they will learn the best lessons, and in what experiences they will grow up.
It is the same in spiritual life. We have no power in ourselves to do Christ’s will, but as we begin to obey the needed grace is given. Young people often say that they are afraid to enter into a Christian life because they can not do what will be required. In their own strength, they cannot. Plain and simple.
Human strength in itself is inadequate for life’s sore needs. But the young Christian who sets out in obedience to Christ, depending upon Him to open the path of duty, will never fail of needed help at the moment of need.
Richard Baxter gives us his take on this passage :
“How great mercy it was to live thirty-eight years under God’s wholesome discipline! O my God, I thank Thee for the like discipline of fifty-eight years; how safe life is this in comparison with full prosperity and pleasure!”
Sick-rooms should always be sacred places for believers, as we remember that God has summoned us there for some special work upon our souls. We must be very careful lest we miss the good He wants us to receive.
It’s only those who trust Christ and lie upon His bosom that is blessed by sickness.
“Too many invalids grow discontented, unhappy, sour, and fretful. Sickness oftentimes fails to do good to those who suffer. There are few experiences in which we so much need to be watchful over ourselves and prayerful toward God. Be sure to keep the sickness out of your heart, and keep Christ there with His love and peace.”