The Wounded Healer
I just finished reading the bible in a year. I love the Message Devotional Bible and follow the daily readings found in the back pages. Each day is relatively straight forward, starting with readings from the New and Old Testament and progressing in order from Genesis to Revelation. The months went by in perfect order until I got to Job and it wasn’t listed. Why was the book of Job out of order? In fact, why would Eugene Peterson put it dead last? What was it about Job that he pulled it out of the lineup to bat cleanup? What do we know about Job? We know his life fell apart and he suffered more than we can imagine. We know his friends looked to be good friends until they spoke. And we know that Job found God to be silent.
Eugene Peterson in a reflection on Job called another person’s suffering “Sacred Ground”. And what are we to do when we come upon holy ground? We take off our sandals! Another person’s suffering is the place where God is at work. At the end of Job, God finally breaks the silence and speaks. Peterson writes, “When God broke His silence, Job’s monologue turned into a dialogue, which inspired a reversal in the way Job processed his suffering.” And in Job 42, Job answers God. “I knew of You, but now I know You.” In the Message it reads, “I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand- from my own eyes and ears….I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumors.” A lump sits in my throat as I get to that part! Perhaps that is why Job is listed last, saving the best for last! Suffering becomes a sacrament and an avenue for grace to meet us face to face. That is the place I want to live.
Pam has come on Faith in Practice Village and Surgery teams for years. And each time, she finds her “special person”. Today she came face to face with her. A beautiful young girl whose feet were so disfigured from Spina Bifida that her ankles bent completely inward, causing her to hobble on the sides of her feet. The mother broke down sobbing as she shared that she had tried for 15 years to get help! Oh, did I tell you that her name was Dulce Milagros? Translated that means sweet miracles. When you are given that name at birth, you live into it, believing that those words will mark your life. This family has known suffering. But they wait for a “sweet miracle”. I’m sure when I looked out and saw Pam sitting with her, sharing in her suffering, she had taken off her sandals.
Peterson offers this prayer at the end of Job:
Help me to see that you are sovereign over the circumstances of my life,
even over suffering that seems impossible to understand.
Help me to see suffering as a sacrament,
something that can be a means pf grace,
drawing me closer to you,
and you closer to me.
Grant me the honesty to ask heartfelt questions.
Grant me also the humility to realize that what I need
Isn’t so much an answer but an embrace,
Embrace me, O God. Please.
Lift me from the ash heap and gather me in your loving arms.
Hold me close. Wipe my tears. And make me whole.”
Lee began our day this morning with a devotion titled “Opening to Pain of Self and Others”. He shared scripture from Isaiah 53:3-5 (Man of Sorrows) and Matthew 20:32-34 (Jesus is moved by compassion to heal) and read from Henri Nouwen’s book The Wounded Healer. In it, Elijah asks the question, “How will the Messiah come?” “You will find the Messiah, the story tells us, sitting among the poor, binding his wounds one at a time, waiting for the moment when he will be needed.” We as disciples are called to do the same.
We concluded our devotional with the song God of the Sparrow, God of the Whale, (Words, Jaroslav Vajda; Music, Carl Schalk)
God of the sparrow, God of the whale, God of the swirling stars,
How does the creature say Awe; How does the creature say Praise?
God of the earthquake, God of the storm, God of the trumpet blast,
How does the creature cry Woe; How does the creature cry Save?
God of the rainbow, God of the cross, God of the empty grave,
How does the creature say Grace; How does the creature say Thanks?
God of the hungry, God of the sick, God of the prodigal,
How does the creature say Care; How does the creature say Life?
God of the neighbor, God of the foe, God of the pruning hook,
How does the creature say Love; How does the creature say Peace?
God of the ages, God near at hand, God of the loving heart,
How do your children say Joy; How do your children say Home?
When God speaks to Job in chapters 38-41 it is a wild barrage of unanswerable questions! Job couldn’t respond with answers, only awe. That is part of the great mystery of grace! Job didn’t get what he wanted, but he got what he needed! He got God, and so can we.
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