Backstory: Sarah wrote this when everything seemed to be falling apart. Everything seemed like it just hit her health wise in November with her down-spiral to the outside world, but it was much sooner. Sarah had to deal with her emotions somehow. Writing was how she did it. She didn’t understand the “why’s” of God, so this was her cathartic way to deal with her suffering which is meant to be a sequel to Exalting an Empire of Dirt. This story is not an actual conversation.
My hands fall down to my side. My head sags in defeat. I thought He told me I could do nothing in my own strength, that I must rely upon Him to muster any good. Yet I don’t see them from the Spirit. I look up at the sky only to see a blanket of blackness. Almost as if the Maker spilled a large inkwell, blotting all white from the canvas, for there were no glimmering winks from the stars. Only a slender, fingernail clipping of a moon hung affixed in the heavens.
I screamed at the void in the night. I screamed at the One who made the night sky. The One who gave me loss: the sweet losses of self-sufficiency, of pride, of self-inflicted turmoil. Yet there exists the more dismal losses of a home, provisions, of regular meals, of human love.
I looked at the earth beneath me. The intricate pebbled design I marked as a remembrance of this sacred ground still remains- where the words of the Heaven Maker broke through. Where I realized that my own efforts could never win me any glory. Where I recognized the tarnished soot that remained in my being even when I thought it was hidden- even from myself.
I heard a voice that said He rescued me that very night by a work I could never perform. My own work that received accolades from a merit well endeavored was swallowed by the earth I now stand upon.
Life did not deserve existence without the works of my hands, so I attempted to condemn my own flesh by death. Yet there was One I was told who bore my own condemnation so that my own flesh could be starved yet saved and that I would no longer stand condemned. I felt the loss of a burden I never knew existed.
Now I feel a loss of His voice. I feel the heavy gain of grief from a heart that trusted people to love at the most vulnerable of times.
“I hear you.” A small whisper wafted through the stale air. The words felt so faint compared to the night He spoke with a rumbling roar. The breeze never lifted its stillness to carry the melodious words to my ears. But they were just that, a melody.
“Why, why, have you been so silent? I could almost take the loss of my home, coin provisions, the loss of my friends, even the loss of food. But your voice of comfort? That hurt more than you could know!” My voice cracked from the incitement. My will to refrain from a bath of tears finally broke.
“I hear you when you cry, dear one. You are still precious to me.”
“If I’m so precious, why are all of these things happening? Why does my body feel so broken? Why don’t I have food on the table? Why don’t I have arms of support thrust around me when I’m hurting the most?”
“I suffer alongside you. I am One who knows grief. I know loss. When I needed My loved ones the most, they were in a stupor. When I needed My Father’s face the most, He hid from me. Evil suddenly filled my veins. I became what a pure man should never become: a murderer, a whore, a thief. All so you could shed your identity from these damning titles. My identity was evil in that moment so that your identity could be pure. My empathy is truly with you, my precious one.”
My heart recognized the wretched validity, but it still felt the ache of loss. The itch of “why” still urged to be scratched by reasonable replies.
My head shakes emphatically as I whisper the words, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry because I know I was a part of the reason why you had to feel pain. I hate that my life had to come at such a huge cost. But what does this have to do with my home, the coins in my pocket, and the loss of all that’s been dear?”
“Sometimes you have to feel hunger pangs to raise your eyes to the starving. Sometimes you have to lose your home and your means of providing taken away from you so you can embrace the very people you deemed as lowlifes. And sometimes you have to have the comforting voices taken away from you: from your friends and even Myself so you can rely on the fortification I have built in you, and not solely from the launching propel from My hand.
The struggle changes a person. But don’t you know that when you kick and flounder about, you build muscle? You grow stronger. I see your eventual end, precious, and it is so beautiful. I love you too much to give you every single one of your whims. You would no longer appreciate my voice. It would eventually fade as you enjoy your companions with the heartiest steak on the platter and the loveliest roof over your head. You wouldn’t care about My companionship because it would be filled with blessings from My hand. My face would be a distant recollection. “
“Beautiful? But I feel the ugliest now. How could any ounce of beauty come from me? Especially now.”
“You don’t see, my precious one, because you are focused on the hurting. When you were a youth, you bemoaned your sore muscles, not realizing they were growing pains that would launch your height and body to maturity. You probably thought you looked awkward. But I didn’t see awkward. I was already envisioning your physical maturity and the worth of the pain. Your pain is worth it because I see beyond your complaints.”
“So you take delight…in my pain? I thought you were love. I thought you cared for me more than my own father.”
“Don’t misunderstand me, my child. I do not rejoice in your home being taken from you. I hurt for you, for I remember when I did not find rest for My head on earth. I do not delight in the fact that you have hunger pangs, for I remember when I was without food for a month and lived the pain of physical cravings, tempted to feed their desires in a desert where it seemed my only reprieve was from My enemy. I am not malicious. I do not wear a sadistic smile. I hurt for you, but I also know your temporal pain could never outweigh what you will receive in the end. This season of pain is not a period marking the end of your life. Other seasons will usher forth. You may be surprised to find you will embrace joy even more.”
“You will understand my true joy. You will be humbled by your present pain in such a way that you will feel you must feed the hungry. You will feel compelled to reach out and comfort those who have lost all companions. Don’t you see? Your current pain will pronounce joy to the future! Do you remember how I called you My body? I have to allow My body to feel pain so it will be driven into motion! Sometimes My body starts falling asleep. The hands won’t operate by reaching out to the oppressed. What do you do when your foot falls asleep after a lack of motion from the blood flow stilling its circulation? “
“I stomp my foot. I try to get those weird, pain filled ‘pins and needles’ sensations to stop.”
“That’s right. I allow you to feel momentary pain so you can realize you’ve been asleep and rise to action. You may buck wildly about, just as someone does whose foot falls asleep as they are trying to regain restoration in their leg. But just like a leg that’s asleep, you will find restoration, my child.”
“I’ll be honest, I still just don’t understand. The pain I feel hurts deeper than my foot falling asleep. It cuts me to the core. It depletes me more than moves me to action. There are days I don’t even know if I’ll be able to make it out of bed. “
“Child, I see, don’t forget I see! My Spirit envelopes you when you are at your weakest. I do not shake off your pain as if it is a mere trifle of a foot that loses its circulation. I only shed light on an illustration to explain the complacency of My body.”
“Allowing pain sometimes encourages a movement to help those who are also in pain- to grow my body in multitude and strength. Remember, I have collected your tears in my bottle. Every one of them is noted in my book.”
“It’s good to know you still care. I just still don’t understand why.”
“Listen, my child, I know you still have questions. I know you still have confusion. You will never fully understand your pain in the body you’re housed in now. But you will one day. You will rejoice in your struggles because they will finally make sense.”
“When you first began your trek in tonight’s night air, you said My Spirit has left you, but it has not, dear one! It resides in you strong! You say I once told you you relied too much on your own strength and not My own, and that I do not seem present right now. It seems as if you have been deceived into believing that you now have to rely on yourself when everything is falling. In fact, the opposite is true! I may not always come to you with the roar that reverberates the ground, but my voice is still in you, even in the struggle.”
If you are going through a time of mind bending, heart aching struggles, I mourn with you, friend. I am so, so sorry for the moments when you collapse into tears, wondering how life ever brought you so far from your intended destination. The last thing I ever want to do when discussing struggles is to answer in a trite fashion that has a one-size-fits all answer. That was not the intention of this story whatsoever. As with many of my stories, this was inspired by my own struggles, and shows how God ministered to me throughout a season of heavy trials. The voice of God in this allegorical narrative is not the literal voice of God and should not be appropriated as such. Seek out the Scriptures yourself, be authentic in your talks with God, ask others to pray for you when you feel you’re at your weakest, and allow yourself to grieve.