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Parson’s Point: My Garden of Tears

My Garden of Tears

by John James Kirkwood

To live is to die a thousand deaths. To suffer a thousand heartbreaks. But He is here. He is with us. The God who knows our sleepless nights, who keeps our tears in a bottle has not forsaken us. The God who is present at the fall of every sparrow walks with us in our sorrow.

I can imagine a day when He’ll show us His collection of our tears. And there will be a vast barren land in front of us. And a nail-pierced hand will hand us a bottle and speak to us of it and we will open it and pour out our tears and each tear when it hits the ground will be a note and a great melody will spring forth. And our garden of tears will begin to bloom, colors and smells that we couldn’t begin to imagine, that cannot be captured even by the most vivid imagination.

And there will be different sections of our garden, and when each bottle is expended we will walk through it, and when we do, our memories will be stirred of the wounds that caused the tears. But now they only cause us to smile or to cry in a different way. This time they are tears of joy and of that serenity that only comes from understanding and contentment.

We will walk through tears of folly and we will laugh. We will stop in that corner of the garden that blooms our tears of anxiety for things that never came to be and we will shake our heads.

And through our tears of regret the wind will pick up and we will hear Psalms whisper through the trees. And finally, we will walk through that corner of the garden that is the most breathtaking, the most spectacular of all: The tears we have shed over the departed – over the death of loved ones.

And here the music will rise to a great crescendo, building with our every step, and we will begin to run with hands spread out, our fingers touching the flowers. Here will awaken a song of triumph for we will realize that we are running through a victory garden.

And suddenly we will see it, the empty tomb. And He will lead them forward. All of ours who have died in Christ will walk out of that wound singing the song of the Lamb:

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
He has ransomed us from the power of the grave; He has redeemed us from death: O death, He is thy plagues; O grave, He is thy destruction!

And suddenly we will notice that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, each with their own tear garden, all leading to the empty tomb.

And the fragrance of our prayers will fill the garden, and our symphony of tears will rise from an orchestra of every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, will be heard to sing, “Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”

“I Walked A Mile With Sorrow…

by John J Kirkwood (from 04 April, 2016)

Just a random rambling over my first cup of coffee, listening to Bobby Bland. (forgive the typos, have to go to church).

Suffering?  Where is God?  There is no God?

Have you considered what suffering has given you, what suffering has given us? From the Declaration of Independence to Bobby Blue Bland, from Beethoven to Miles Davis, from Van Gogh to Bobby Fischer, from Florence NIghtengale to Dr. Scholls. Suffering gave us Anne Sullivan, Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, Joe Scheidler, and Jesus Christ.

Suffering has led to the highest poetry, the greatest intimacy, the most remarkable acts of humanity, and the greatest opportunity to reflect the love and compassion of almighty God to those in need.

So the alcoholic becomes the greatest counselor and thousands of lives are touched, the heroin addict goes from abuser to nurse, the homeless man rises up and starts a chain of rescue missions still touching lives today. The man whose girlfriend aborted his baby doesn’t stop spreading truth and healing and his joy is exuberant.

The battered wife becomes the shoulder and the strength to lead women through or to lead them away, the song written by the outcast is played over and over to allow a generation to overcome. The poem, the movie, the stand-up act may do the same. Jazz, country, the blues – Americans excel at suffering and the natural consequence of the godly under the whip. They take their inspiration from the history of the Jew and from the “negro spirituals.”

There must be something about “That book” that unites them all. Ultimately, it’s suffering that gave us “That book,” suffering that is infused and then defused down a blood stained path – the Via Dolorosa, ending with a man of sorrows who hung on a cross of suffering and an empty tomb that announces its defeat.

That’s right, suffering for the Christian isn’t karma from a previous life or inshallah – the will of God; suffering is an enemy, and it’s a beacon, it’s man-made, and it’s only undone by the pierced hand of a risen savior.

You suffer? Hallelujah, you’re still alive! You’ve suffered greatly! Great! Bring it to the altar, offer it up to God. Thank Him for the opportunity that it has given you to show His strength, to spread His comfort. Then show your scars to your kids and share the wisdom that your pain has purchased.

Take your suffering and put it into verse, or song, and most importantly, into your life’s work. Use your suffering to offer the hand to the next guy, pull him up from pain, confusion, and despair.

If you must suffer, and we must, suffer righteously. Suffer like Ken Hutcherson, who thanked God for his cancer and the opportunity that it gave him to display the love of Christ in his broken body. Know that brother Ken didn’t thank God for giving him cancer, that would be blasphemy because Adam gave him the cancer. No, brother Ken thanked God for the opportunities that cancer opened for him, as Paul thanked God for his chains and the furtherance of the gospel that a Roman imprisonment opened for him.

Would I want to live a life devoid of pain and sorrow? No, I’m not willing to give up suffering for the sake of your idea of a sane universe, because I’m not willing to give up what suffering has given us. What suffering has given me.

Suffering gave me a compassion for the incarcerated, the addicted, the lost. Thank you Lord, for allowing me to suffer.

I’ll take Bobby Bland on a cold April morning in Chicago and a big heaping side of worship with the people of the Book.

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