Monday, August 15, 2011


In the midst of it all, you live moment to moment, wondering how the rest of the world can just go on like everything is normal.  Things that once mattered become trivial; things that once were peripheral become central.

Finally, as the days go on, you find yourself moving forward.  Putting one foot in front of the other becomes doable and if you are anything like me, you begin to recognize your need to make sense of it all.  Surely this has deeper meaning, deeper impact, all of this labor and heartache must have something deeper for my life?  Right?   We want our pain, work, trial to be something more.  To mean something more.  To be bigger than my experience of it. And perhaps to even boldly hope it might bear some fruit.

The promise of redemption speaks to that desire.  Redemption says: "There is healing.  There is hope.  This was not all in vain."

To buy back, to repurchase is what the dictionary will tell you redemption means.  What struck me most when I first read that definition is that means that I have to let go of my grief -- loosen my hold.  Something can't be bought back from me if I insist on holding onto it.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mean that you have to "get over it"; the offensive phrase that is often said (or implied) with disdain when your grieving doesn't fit into another's preconceived notion of what is appropriate.  The best distinction for me is this:  I have to move forward, not move on.  Walk forward and accept that my lens is changed, my world is different now.

The hardship might be a lost relationship, a loss of a job, financial problems, an illness for you or your child, a strained relationship, the loss of a parent, the loss of a child.  We've all known difficulty in on way or another, you can fill in the blank with your own hardship.  Though the experiences and the people going through them are wildly different, the thread between them is constant: a longing for the pain to not be vain.

As I read through Isaiah in the Bible, chapter 35 has drawn me back again and again over the past several weeks.  It is a picture of coming redemption.  It offers promise that those seemingly dry, deserted places will not remain that way.  Verses 6-7 say:

Water will gush forth in the wilderness 
   and streams in the desert. 
The burning sand will become a pool, 
   the thirsty ground bubbling springs. 

For me, one of the most striking things about this truth is that not only does the life return to you when you allow redemption to do its work in you, but that your redemption can be life-giving to others.  The pool is filled, but it isn't filled just for itself.  It is filled to give water to others.  There is healing beyond measure when your pain can speak to another;  "[t]he way through the pain is to reach out to others in theirs."  (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts. p. 199).   

So today, I'm praying for my own places of death can see life again, and I even will boldly pray that those places might give some measure of hope and healing to another.  

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