“All new life labors out of the very bowels of darkness…Out of the darkness of the cross, the world transfigures into new life. And there is no other way.” Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
Five Novembers ago, my body was racked by GI distress so acute it rendered me unconscious. Body parched, heart beating shallow, I was rushed to the hospital where a team of nurses, doctors, surgeons, and specialists hovered and buzzed, working ceaselessly to soothe and pump life back into my large intestine, which was dying rapidly and threatening my life. After eight days of diligent work and care, they successfully saved my colon and my life. I left with my intestine intact, but also with a new reality – life with Crohn’s Disease.
Fragile and frail, I returned home to a different life. One that was filled with emergency room visits, specialist appointments, and radical diet changes. In the five years since my diagnosis I have had recurrent Crohn’s flare ups, my gallbladder and appendix removed, pancreatitis, preeclampsia with both pregnancies, and a chronic pain disorder surface.
I know pain.
But when Jack was diagnosed with autism I came to realize there is no pain like that of watching your child suffer.
For months, I lashed out at God. Called Him hideous names. Spewed venomous words.
Then one night last November, in a rare moment of quiet, I sat down and prayed. And in that tender moment, with my heart laid raw before God, He shared this with me:
“Release what is burdening your heart – all fears and worries. Instead rejoice and be. Rejoice in My Son’s sacrifice.”
Release. Rejoice. Be.
To release burdens I must first accept them. To rejoice in sacrifice I must first accept suffering. To be freed from both I must offer the burdens and the suffering to God with thanksgiving.
“Emptiness itself can birth the fullness of grace because in the emptiness we have the opportunity to turn to God, the only begetter of grace, and there find all the fullness of joy.” Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
Flying home from a visit with my oldest and dearest friend this November, I peered out the window of the airplane. As a mass of clouds cleared, I gazed down at the Atlantic – its water opening wide and welcoming me home. For the first time in five years, I felt blissfully empty. I wanted to dive into the depth of God and emerge anew, whole.
And in that moment, I felt it – Grace.
It is in the desire to plunge into the healing power of God that I am freed to experience His Grace. That desire, that emptiness is always within reach if I accept, release, and rejoice.
* * *
Coffee with God is a weekly series dedicated to sharing time spent with the Lord in Scripture, meditation, and prayer. To learn more about the series, please visit this post.