It’s been 16 months since the stroke. My left arm continues to be lifeless and my left leg still weak and stubborn. Even as I seek more and more to accept, even embrace, my physical limitations as the new normal, frustration is an ever present reality. I must acknowledge that underneath this frustration with my continued immobility and almost constant need for help, there is a sense of suppressed outrage, that it shouldn’t be like this.
As I struggle to embrace my weakness and handicaps, I have found myself pondering the weakness and vulnerability Jesus took on in order to redeem me. This became especially apparent to me during Passion Week. Imagine what it must have felt like for the All powerful God to take on human weakness, limitation, brokenness. Surely He knew frustration over being human. Ann Voskamp speaks so well into this reality when she says in The Broken Way: “what warms us is the wounded, weeping God who doesn’t write answers in the stars but writes His ardent love for us, with His wounds. Right into our wounds. He suffered for us, but He also suffers with us.”
Isaiah tells us, “In their (the Israelites) distress, He (God) too was distressed.” When my feelings tell me that God is apathetic to my struggles or that He has abandoned me, I remind myself of the Truth of who He really is, so I can say with Isaiah: “I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord…according to all that the Lord has granted us (me),…according to His compassion and the abundance of His steadfast love. For He says, ‘Surely they are (mine)…and (I) am their Savior. In all their affliction, He was afflicted;…his presence saved them; in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; He lifted them up and He carried them all the days of old” (Isaiah 63:7-9) Yes, this is our God!
I may never have the mobility and independence that I long for this side of heaven. But who better to trust to carry me through these times of frustration all the way to the finish line than the One who understands the burden of my brokenness?
As most of you know, my own dear father slipped into eternity over Holy Week. He also found himself stuck in a body that wasn’t working up until the end. Right before he died, I playfully asked him if I could go with him. He reminded me, lovingly, as a father would, that it doesn’t work that way! But just as Jesus came and carried my earthly father to his eternal home, He will carry me over the threshold too one day. I need not fear when that time comes or be anxious for it. There is peace, His peace, that enables me to live and face each new day, whatever it may bring.
In the midst of my own personal pain and the heightened frustrations of my own physical brokenness, what I really long for is not more reasons why, or some better explanation of how or why things happen. I long for eyes to see the thousands of manifestations of His ardent love that surround me (i.e., children, grandchildren, friends and caregivers etc…)! He soothes my outrage, as I lament to Him, my Savior – the Man of Sorrows, acquainted with suffering and grief.
Some tangible manifestations of His love were especially apparent over Easter weekend as we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus and my father! What a glorious weekend to spend with our family celebrating a life fully lived for Jesus and now eternally in His presence. How grateful I am for the earthly father God gave me and for a heavenly Father whose presence and tangible love are ever-present – even, or maybe especially, in these tough days.