‘… in the land that is plentiful, where your streams of abundance flow…

when the sun’s shining down on me, when the world’s ‘all that it should be’…

These words, found in Matt Redman’s worship song, ‘Blessed Be Your Name,’ lilt off our tongues with such ease, such pleasure, when the content is in sync with our experience. The following words, also from that song, are a bit of a strain on our vocal cords when they are in sync with our experience:

‘…when I’m found in the desert place, though I walk through the wilderness…

on the road marked with suffering, though there’s pain in the offering…’

Then, the faith-revealing declaration that comes next: 

‘…though the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say:

Blessed be the name of the Lord, blessed be your glorious Name…’

Christian author, Gerald L. Sittser, wrote a book titled, A Grace Disguised: How The Soul Grows Through Loss. In it, he describes the tragedy and chaos that decimated his life one night when a drunk driver failed to navigate a turn in the road, instantly killing his mother, his wife of 20 years, and his 4-year-old daughter. He, his 8-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son, were mostly just bruised and shaken. His 2-year-old son was seriously injured and required surgery and months of rehab (he made a full recovery). The sudden cruelty, the instant single parenthood, the caring for a panicked, motherless child in the hospital, the planning of a triple funeral, etc. all washed over him like a tidal wave. Sittser’s goal in writing the book was to explore the answer to this question: ‘What meaning can be gained from suffering, and how can we grow through suffering?’

Hebrews 12:24, TPT, says that Jesus’ blood speaks from heaven a better message, “forgiveness”… In Luke 11, where we find the prayer model Jesus taught his disciples, there’s this line: ‘Forgive ours sins as we ourselves release forgiveness to those who have wronged us.’ Added to the nightmare into which he had been plunged, was the Scriptural mandate to forgive the driver (whose wife also died in the accident). The years-long journey through this ‘vicissitude,’ taught much, challenged much. His faith plummeted to darker depths than he’d ever known. The inescapability of his re-defined life, the need to care for and raise his three children, continue teaching at the university, maintain a household, demanded resilience and fortitude often beyond his reach. 

Sittser says: ‘Loss is as much a part of normal life as birth, for as surely as we are born into this world we suffer loss before we leave it. This book shows how it is possible to live in and be enlarged by loss, even as we continue to experience it.’ We all have stories of one type of loss or another and it is a vital, life-giving treasure to share our stories, as Sittser has done, including the ‘disguised grace’ we’ve discovered along the way. In this season of Lent, we are reminded that God the Father sent his only Son to die as one such life-imparting treasure for us. May our Prayer Journey continue gracing us with powerful glimpses of Love’s continuing passion.  PD

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