I wasn’t planning to write today so I’m putting this out here as a stream of consciousness, unedited and imperfect. Forgive my mistakes, but…
I’ve been thinking about the horrific attack of life in Syria–the hopelessness those poor people must be feeling after realizing that their own government forever changed their life with violence. Senseless violence. Wickedness. Murder. Chemicals used on children. 27 of them. Innocents assaulted and killed. Children of God, made in His image. Imagine how the injustice of this must anger God and fly in the face of His mercy and love. One man lost 25 members of his family. I can’t imagine the pain. Father, forgive me when I complain.
I was convicted when I woke this morning and saw the news.
You see, I’ve been frustrated and tired. We’re in a pattern of sleepless nights over here again, our foster child waking at 2:30 am pretty consistently and crying on the hour. Sometimes until 5 am. Sometimes he comes into bed with us. Other night he screams and I rock him. This is hard and I don’t know why he’s doing it. I’m wondering if there’s emotional problems I can’t reach or fix. I’m focusing on the what ifs. I’m not counting this all joy.
My ordinary life–my hard day–is nothing to complain about. There are 27 mothers somewhere in Syria who would give anything to be up at night just one more time with their child. They’d love the chance to try to problem solve for their little one.
I asked God to give me eyes to see the big picture through bleary eyes and weak body.
I prayed for those mothers. Won’t you pray for them, too? I wondered what I could do today when the problem is so huge and the struggle seems so impossible.
I instinctively start to clean and make the home cozy. A magazine here, fluff the pillows and add a throw blanket there. I light a candle, bake a cake.
I recall hearing someone somewhere say, “In times of tragedy, create beauty”–or something along those lines.
I’ve thought of this advice after the death of a loved one, or whenever life seems hopeless. I find myself wanting to create order out of disorder. I suppose that to some extent, it’s a way to imitate our Creator.
Creating beauty and a peaceful environment is like a silent resistance–a refusal to be overcome by the evil or defeated by the spirit of hopelessness. For the artist at heart, creating beauty is a way to deal with grief, and giving art is an offering of healing and friendship to the recipient, whether it’s a handwritten note, baked good, watercolor, fist full of wildflowers, or musical piece.
When my niece Addy had her super risky surgery two years back, I painted this piece: Teach us to Number our Days.
When my grandfather died, my daughter Rebekah wrote this 3 part violin arrangement of Be Still My Soul (Finlandia) for her and her sisters to play for him one last time at his funeral. Beauty born in the middle of grief.
Some of the most amazing music has been born out of grief. Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, (Adagio) was played in Berlin during the RAF bombing and the orchestra continued playing until the end. You can hear it here or purchase the original recording here, digitally remastered so you can still hear the bombs in the background. I highly recommend you listen.
French composer, Oliver Massiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time was composed and performed in a concentration camp on an old, out of tune, upright piano in the winter of January 1941. The piece can be heard on YouTube here (I especially love the V movement: Praise to the Eternity of Jesus. 20:15 in the recording.) and more about how he obtained paper from the guards, and worked with other musicians in the camp barracks and the performance can be found here.
If you are overwhelmed today, realize that our soul knows that this world is broken and we all wait and long for Eternity.
Perhaps create something beautiful for the sake of your children, husband, friend, or even yourself.
Tell someone you love them. Set a table for tea. Light a candle. Love others well. Pray for those who do the unthinkable and those who are bearing injustice. Wait patiently for Him. Do not be overcome with darkness. Walk in the light.
Waiting is your calling. Waiting is your blessing. Every one of God’s children has been chosen to wait, because every one of God’s children lives between the “already” and the “not yet.” Already this world has been broken by sin, but not yet has it been made new again. Already Jesus has come, but not yet has he returned to take you home with him forever. Already your sin has been forgiven, but not yet have you been fully delivered from it. Already Jesus reigns, but not yet has his final kingdom come. Already sin has been defeated, but not yet has it been completely destroyed. Already the Holy Spirit has been given, but not yet have you been perfectly formed into the likeness of Jesus. Already God has given you his Word, but not yet has it totally transformed your life. Already you have been given grace, but not yet has that grace finished its work. You see, we’re all called to wait because we all live right smack dab in the middle of God’s grand redemptive story. We all wait for the final end of the work that God has begun in and for us.” Paul Tripp, New Morning Mercies