“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness.”
This branch is from my Flowering Almond bush. It has had its share of suffering and disease. At one point, several years ago, I considered removing the whole bush because it continued to die back and shed more leaves than what it was gaining. But the patient gardener in me decided to give it another chance, and pruned away the dead branches one more time. I would have missed out on these beautiful blooms if I had focused solely on the diseased portion of the plant.
And so it is in my own life. Where are my eyes choosing to focus? Where is the light within them?
This week a friend sent me a song, and because it was a reworking of a hymn that was one of my favorites, I went on a search to find the original. In so doing, as often happens with me, the history of the hymn drew my attention just as much as the song itself. Maybe you have heard of Annie Johnson Flint, poet and hymn writer from the early 1900’s?
Before this search, I had known she lived a life of suffering, and I had known her beautiful work came from a fountain of grace within her. What I had not known was that her disease was one with which I am well acquainted:
But she suffered in the years when there was no relief for pain, and no medicine to halt the crippling effects. Where I might suffer some pain and weakness, and some residual tendon damage,
she suffered the full effects of a horrible disfigurement
and pain beyond compare. As the disease progressed,
she was forced to type out her poems using only her bent knuckles, because her joints had swollen and twisted to a point of uselessness.
What do I know of that kind of uselessness?
How would I have borne that kind of suffering?
In these days of stillness, as the Lord brings fresh convictions to me daily, I know that my heart has so far yet to travel. For you see, Annie Johnson Flint had let the Lord bring the true Light to her eyes. When the darkness of a cruel disease could have crippled her heart, she chose to let the Light of Christ permeate her soul and body. She chose to let that Light redeem her suffering, and bring forth encouragement that would bless others who were facing darkness.
She chose Acceptance in the Pruning
from her own Master Gardener
and embraced HIS Light
in the very place of her suffering.
He Giveth More Grace
“He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercy;
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
His love has no limit; His grace has no measure.
His pow’r has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!”
—Annie Johnson Flint
In this Lenten Season, as we pause to meditate on the suffering that our Lord bore for us,
would you join me in prayer?
Dear Lord Jesus,
I thank you for the suffering
that you bore
I rejoice in the salvation and grace
that you won
for me there.
And, now I ask that you would
purify my eyes
to see the light in my days
and the Grace within
my own suffering.
May I let you bring Joy from Pain
and Beauty from Ashes,
And may the Love you have granted
sink deep into my soul,
body, mind and spirit.
Debbie Kitterman, #TuneInThursday