Last night I was reading Thornyhold, by Mary Stewart, and I read this line at the end of one of the chapters:
"God bless your sleep. Perhaps if I forget the other long-past nightmares, and realized the good things of my childhood and what I had been taught, He would."
I paused there and considered. Keith was fast asleep beside me, Lynn was curled up beside the bed and Abby was at my feet. The whole house was quiet.
In the quietness, I thought about how God has woven rhythm and growth into every part of His work- the seasons, night and day, life and death, and growth itself.
It struck me how important that must be to Him, if He is displaying it everywhere we turn, in everything great and small. What is it that He wants us to learn from that, I wondered. What was that meant to cause, to illustrate?
I thought, it must be necessary for the growth of our spirit- all that natural change that comes on us either suddenly and throws us all out of joint, or sneaks up on us all unaware and one day we wake up and realize we aren't the same person we used to be.
Then I wondered, could it possibly reflect His own nature? But then I chided myself.
"But You never change," I reminded Him. "You are the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow."
And He reminded me of this:
"For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings."
-Hebrews 2:10 KJV
Even Jesus was perfected by suffering! That extraordinary fact hit me all over again, that incredible event around which all of human history turns.
In fact, Jesus experienced birth, and growth and loss and death. He passed through all the stages of human life that are so beautifully illustrated by the world all around us. It's His story as well.
The thought of His suffering sunk deeply into me, as I lay so quiet on the bed, the book forgotten, but still held upright in my hands.
It's over now, Jesus said to me tenderly, releasing me from the stillness of sorrow.
"Finished!" I cried with relieved joy. "And never again!"
Then another thought struck me. I had to work through the thought very slowly and cautiously. "But it could never have been just the physical suffering that You dreaded so much, as excruciating as that was," I said to Him, slowly. "That could not have been the worst thing."
As this thought grew in my mind, I felt the atmosphere around me change; it was as though the air around me took on weight; it was as though the air turned heavy and golden and hushed. I had the distinct impression that Jesus was bending closely over me and listening intently- even though, of course, He knew my thought before I spoke it.
Even know He knows our thoughts before we speak them, He still likes to hear us speak. Isn't that interesting about God? He likes it when we talk to Him. He loves any gift of ourselves that we freely offer up to Him, because He loves us.
"The worst thing must have been the separation from the Father," I said at last, almost reluctant to speak it at all.
Without words, Jesus poured into me an acknowledgement of that being true but also, a second agony- the agony of being opened up to and taking on Himself all of our brokenness and suffering and sins and misery.
This understanding swept through me, leaving me speachless. After a little while, the atmosphere changed- it grew lighter and I realized I was still holding the book upright on my chest.
I couldn't read any more. I turned out the lamp and settled in.
In the morning, I read this:
"I am overcome with joy because of Your unfailing love, for You have seen my troubles, and You care about the anguish of my soul. You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set me in a safe place."
-Psalm 31:7-8 NLT