Trouble

Mama has the tea ready when I get there for prayer group and Bible study first thing in the morning. I have on the socks that the woman with five kids and stage four cancer knit for me. This is always the first thing – to go right into the throne room of God wearing nothing less than your aching prayers…

Mama, she hands me a mug of steaming tea – apple cinnamon – and tells me it’s Psalms 107 this morning and could I read the chapter right out loud? Read it because it’s manna, and you’ve got nothing to give if you haven’t gathered, and you have to gather word manna at daybreak if you’re going to gain from it the day long. Read it because it’s your very life, and why live emaciated? 

…hadn’t Spurgeon said it? ‘There is no greater mercy that I know of on earth than good health, except to be sickness, and that has often been a greater mercy to me than health. It is a good thing to be without a trouble, but it is a better thing to have a trouble and know how to get grace enough to bear it.’

~ Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts Devotional

O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;

for his steadfast love endures forever.

Psalm 107:1 (NRSVA)

Ann Voskamp at her beautiful best this morning as I listened to her read from the book of devotions drawn from her first book, One Thousand Gifts. Ann is the first person who taught me that you have to be broken to be mended. Before that I was just broken. And lost. And thinking that there must be something wrong with me, something deep in my soul – a stench that attracted trouble like a bluebottle to decay. Ann showed me that, contrary to my beliefs, the true beauty of God, the love of Christ, was found in the very midst of decay. It turned everything on its head and I began to see the world, the Church and Jesus with fresh eyes. How then can I not give praise? How can I be anything less than thankful?

No more let sorrows grow

Hold the child and hear Him crying,

No more let sorrows grow

He knows my troubles…

~ from the song My Troubles by Andrew Greer

EMDR Diary 2: ‘My Troubles’

According to some Christian traditions, we’re still in the Christmas season, which lasts not 12 but 40 days. I’ve been thinking about the exhausted young mother with her new baby in those early weeks. I feel a bit like I have the ‘baby blues’ today – happy, sad, mad all at once… and so tired zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz I only managed 30 minutes of studying today before my brain conked out. Meh.

 

Over Christmas I listened to a singer called Andrew Greer, and the song below has been echoing around my head today. I was introduced to this musician by Thomas over on My Random Thoughts (thank you, Thomas).

On the composition of the album, Andrew writes ‘In composing and recording… I wanted to … recognize the beautiful melancholy that lingers with us during December’s autumnal darkness. For the lyrical framework, I picked phrases from the triumphant carol “Joy to the World” to juxtapose with my own interpretation of the harsh contrast Christmas reveals between hope and despair.

The memory of a spouse’s premature death, a forfeiture of personal innocence—Christmas yet infuses our day-to-day doubts, fears, and questions with glorious glimmers of hope. It is the stark awareness that God, the Creator of the cosmos, surrendered Himself to a body of bones to commune with us in the midst of our pain. It’s the reason we can say, “No more let sorrows grow / Hold the child and hear him crying / No more let sorrows grow / He knows my troubles . . .”

 

Andrew has a beautiful, unadorned singing style and unsentimental yet earnest lyrics that embody both pain and hope:

‘Far as the curse is found / They say he’s digging for diamonds in the rubble / Far as the curse is found / My troubles.’