Millet, Jean François, 1814-1875 The Sower, ca. 1865-1866 black conté crayon and pastel on paper Clark Art Institute Williamstown, MA
[And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying:] “But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” Matthew 13:23
Today is a bad pain day. It is taking most of my energy to breathe. The soil I have to offer the Lord feels stony, weed-infested, and prickly with thorns. How can I hope to bear any fruit at all?
By letting go of self-pity, self-judgment, self-loathing and opening my mouth to say the one Word that heals: Jesus.
James Tissot (1836-1902) Jésus engage les apôtres à se reposer (Jesus Commands the Apostles to Rest) between 1886 and 1894 opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper Brooklyn Musuem
[Jesus said,] “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
I know some days I am heavy with pain, fatigue, and discouragement. I know others carry heavy responsibilities, grief, and stress. I know the world is heavy with violence, racism, and injustice.
I don’t know how to heal the heaviness. But Jesus does. I will practice turning my attention to Jesus. I will trust him with my burdens, the burdens of others, and the world’s burdens. I will rest from my tendency to do-it-myself and let Jesus help me through the day.
Rembrandt (1606-1669) The Three Crosses, 1653 drypoint and burin on paper (III/IV) Rijksmuseum Amsterdam via Wikimedia Commons
After they had crucified him, they divided his garments by casting lots; then they sat down and kept watch over him there.
And they placed over his head the written charge against him: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and the other on his left. Matthew 27:35-38
If I ever doubt that Jesus understands the suffering I experience, let me contemplate the cross with its reverberations of torturous pain, shaming ridicule, forlorn abandonment, and crushing despair.
At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert
to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1
Chronic pain is probably the most distracting, tiring, energy-draining, hope-depleting experience I’ve ever had. Last night’s wakefulness kept me struggling to put my focus on God. “Help!” was as complicated as my prayers got.
Whether or not I believe God is with me in the desert of pain, God is there. Whether or not I can feel God in the bleakness of pain, God is there. Whether or not I continue to experience physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pain, God is there. In the moment, in the pain, in the prayer.
I told the devil last night, “You ain’t gonna get me yet.”