Of course there are no guarantees — no matter how selfless we are, how devout our practices, how righteous we appear in others’ eyes.
The natural disaster still happens, the illness progresses, the unexpected still happens because there is no warranty on how things must go while we’re here.
What is guaranteed is our vision of God’s glory as portrayed through His infinite sacrifice, His infinite worth, His infinite value, His infinite presence and transcendence. We glorify him through our enjoyment of Him — right now, right here — the bonus of another morning, another noon, another evening. It is bonus, not anything we are owed.
Will cave in on him by and by. ~Edna St. Vincent Millay – the first two and last stanzas of “Renascence”, written when she was twenty
Millions of people have left their homes and possessions behind this weekend to find safe haven – a churning swirling monster hurricane closes in, mowing down whatever it touches, rendering sea and land indistinguishable, pinching East and West together and flattening hearts and souls as the sky caves in. As with any natural disaster – the earthquake, the tsunami, the wildfire, the flood – we are reminded of our sheer helplessness before power that existed before us and will persist beyond us.
We are bounded and limited.
God is unbound and unlimited.
Our only hope is reviving our dormant faith, our renascence – cracking open heart and soul to let the face of God shine through us.
We are lifted up, not flattened.
We reach out to Him, grab hold and hang on.
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“Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?”
“Supposing it didn’t,” said Pooh after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this. ~A.A. Milne
It is the final week of a very long academic year and tension is running high.
Among those students to whom I provide care,
there are many who dwell deeply in “what if?” mode,
immobilized in their anticipation of impending disaster.
I understand this line of thinking,
particularly in this day and age of
“in the moment” tragedy
played out real-time in the palm of our hand
and we can’t help but watch as it unfolds.
Those who know me well
know I can fret and worry
better than most.
Medical training only makes it worse.
It teaches one to think catastrophically.
That is what I do for a living,
to always be ready for the worse case scenario.
When I rise, sleepless,
to face a day of uncertainty
as we all must do at times~
after careful thought,
I reach for the certainty I am promised
over the uncertainty I can only imagine:
What is my only comfort in life and in death? That I am not my own, but belong —body and soul, in life and in death— to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.
God keep my jewel this day from danger; From tinker and pooka and black-hearted stranger. From harm of the water, from hurt of the fire. From the horns of the cows going home to the byre. From the sight of the fairies that maybe might change her. From teasing the ass when he’s tied to the manger. From stones that would bruise her, from thorns of the briar. From evil red berries that wake her desire. From hunting the gander and vexing the goat. From the depths o’ sea water by Danny’s old boat. From cut and from tumble, from sickness and weeping; May God have my jewel this day in his keeping. ~Winifred Lett (1882-1973) Prayer for a Child
This prayer has hung in our home for almost three decades, purchased when I was pregnant with our first child. When I first saw it with its drawing of the praying mother watching her toddler leave the safety of the home to explore the wide world, I knew it addressed most of my worries as a new mother, in language that helped me smile at my often irrational fears. I would glance at it dozens of time a day, and it would remind me of God’s care for our children through every scary thing, real or imagined.
When our eight year old daughter was hospitalized with a life threatening E.Coli 0157 infection, this prayer comforted me when she was so sick, as I knew only God’s care and keeping would make the difference in a condition where there was no proven medical treatment other than watching and waiting with intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration.
And now this poem is in my mind once again, prayed fervently for two children separated by a vast ocean, but united through God’s church family. One is our little neighbor Faye, turning two in three days, who also has E.Coli 0157 infection and is at Children’s Hospital in Seattle. Her life and her family are incredibly precious to us at Wiser Lake Chapel. Please pray with us that God will protect her through this awful illness, and give her parents endurance through long days and nights and an extra strength of faith and assurance of His love.
In Tokyo, Japan, we pray with our sister church Grace Harbor for their pastor’s son, Towa, age fourteen, who this week sustained a serious neck injury causing paralysis of his arms and legs. His healing and recovery will take much time and his long term outcome uncertain. He and his family too are having to depend on God’s power to help heal his body, and to prepare their hearts and minds for the unknowns and potential of life long challenges.
In addition to the two whose names we know, there are so many thousands of children hurting now in Nepal and other parts of the world, whose names we do not know, but who desperately need this prayer:
From cut and from tumble, from sickness and weeping; May God have my jewel this day in his keeping….