God saw more than me on the day He reached for me. He saw my family. He knew that I had a son; a boy troubled from birth. He knew the agony of my mother heart in trying to fix what was broken. And He knew that I couldn’t. When He said, “Share your wounds”, He knew the full breadth of what was to come. He offered His wounded hand for every part and offered Himself to walk through the valleys of death with me.
But I didn’t realize this truth back then. I was the walking wounded learning to rest in the Wounded Healer myself. I didn’t yet know what His wounds would mean for those I love; the promise held out in His hand. This is an excerpt of a poem I wrote during that time of my life. Eddie was about 9 years old:
Somewhere in a mind of fire and storm
The clouds give light that keeps you warm
Lightning and hail rain down as I wail
Thunder and sleet crash down at my feet
Full of rage
Full of woe
My angry child I do not know
Where this anger lives
Where my heart gives
Way to my core
Deep in my womb
As you thrash and crash around the room
Deep heart aches
Deep heart break
Can I soothe this rage beyond your age?
I desperately wanted Eddie to be well. I didn’t understand what drove his behavioral problems, and I searched frantically for solutions. Doctors diagnosed and prescribed medications. I researched and read; wept and grieved. I twisted myself inside out over what was the right thing for him. I advocated with the schools, but Eddie was moved several times. It seemed that no one could work with him successfully. By 3rd grade, he had worsened to the point of being admitted to a day hospital treatment program. We had times of reprieve when Eddie would do quite well, but the problems always resurfaced. And they got worse. By his junior year of high school, we were in full blown crisis. A verse that expresses what I felt for my family is, “You have shown your people desperate times, you have given us wine that makes us stagger” (Psalm 60:3). Indeed, we had been stumbling and staggering for years. There were many times I doubted we would make it through at all.
Now I see it differently. I see that God understood all of this and offered His hand for Eddie too. The very things I thought would destroy us were the things that God was using to grow my faith in Him, and to lead my son to his own encounter with the Wounded One. This is perspective gained only from the other side of the fire and storm. Now it is the magnitude and majesty of God that stagger me. I have learned that He really is Sovereign over all of life whether or not we know it. The rest of Psalm 60 has been my prayer for my family for years, “But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow. Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered” (Psalm 60:4, 5). The whole Psalm is more than a weary expression of the circumstances in which we stagger. It is God’s victory shout of salvation!
Natalie Grant has a song with a lyric that is a little mysterious and hard to understand. She beautifully captures this truth of God in her song “Held”. Here are some of the lyrics:
Two months is too little
They let him go
They had no sudden healing
To think that providence
Would take a child from his mother
While she prays, is appalling
Who told us we’d be rescued
What has changed and
Why should we be saved from nightmares
We’re asking why this happens to us
Who have died to live, it’s unfair
This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We’d be held
The sacred torn from your life and you survive, like a mother wrenched in grief over the son torn from childhood. Her tortured cries pierce the sky like a mother bird squawking urgently as her baby falls to the ground. She is helpless to fix his broken wing and make him fly. She keeps a watchful eye from a nearby tree. All of her invested in his survival.
If hope is born of suffering
If this is only the beginning
Can we not wait, for one hour
Watching for our savior
What sacred struggle are you staggering through? Whom are you keeping watch over? And do you know that the Wounded Hand is extended for them too?
Eddie wrote a poem a couple years ago, in the middle of the unfolding of everything. He was then 17 years old, after years of broken circling on the ground. He wrote, “A Poem for You” to me and his stepdad:
A Poem For You
You tried and tried again
Until you realized you couldn’t win
Win the battle of your son
Then you found He wasn’t one
I know how hard you tried
And I always thought to reason why
But this is not goodbye
Because God is teaching me how to fly
Fly with all of you
So we can be together in a few
Keep watch, dear ones. The Wounded One rises with healing in His wings. He makes the broken to fly.