When Affliction’s Hammer Hits Close to Home

“Your wrist looks like someone took a hammer and just smashed it.” The Orthopedic Surgeon delivered her blow in gentle tones, but it was still a blow. My travel buddy, my friend of twenty-plus years, is going to be sidelined for a bit. This tough woman, who recently survived a treacherous tumble down a steep incline while hiking the Swiss Alps, was now depending on me to navigate her wheel chair from the doctor’s office to the parking lot (the high dose of pain meds makes her a bit wobbly).

The blows that hit unexpectedly serve to remind us of our frailty.

In a flash, things can change so quickly. One moment, a late evening game with friends is the most harmless activity, and in the next, the spill on the driveway sends Jeanne to the emergency room with a severe injury to her radius bone. And isn’t that the nature of life?

The moments flow, one into another, with a seemingly trivial and uneventful progression that can lull one into boredom and the mistaken belief that things will always stay the same . . . and one day the phone rings with the news. Or the miscarriage comes. The diagnosis is read. Or the husband leaves. And life is never the same again. The normal and ordinary is disrupted by the brokenness of life under the curse.

And in that moment, we recognize how small we are and how brief is our excursion here.

It’s the early morning hours as I type this, and soon I’ll be heading out the door for my friend’s surgery. Thankfully, this morning’s reading took me to Psalm 90, and the reminder from Moses that, although our lives are short and filled with affliction, God’s steadfast love is everlasting. We are small and weak, but He is God. We return to dust, but He remains. We experience turmoil and affliction, but He is the dwelling place, the shelter of protection.

It is a song of contrasts.

Our life is but for a moment, but God has been before the world began, and He continues long past earth’s final breath. Let the reality of that sink in. He is not a fleeting fairy tale, or a fuzzy imagination from childhood. He is not a dream in the night that fades with the waking hours. No, He is not anything like our minimal existence and inconstancy.

He Is. He was here long before the earth was formed, and will be here long after you and I make our exit.

Reminding myself that He is God, and I am not, puts things into a clear perspective for me. It is comforting to remember that no matter what unexpected storms hit, His constancy and enduring eternality will always stay the same. He isn’t going anywhere. It’s kind of like when I was a little girl and was afraid to walk into my dark bedroom at night, I didn’t want to leave the light and comfort of my parent’s company, but knowing that they would stay in the next room through the night, brought real comfort . . . it provided the security to step across that dark threshold and keep me in my bed through the night!

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God.

You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!” For a thousand years in Your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night (Psalm 90:2–4).

We far too easily get caught up in the daily grind of activity and allow ourselves to reduce God’s size. His enormity grows fuzzy to us, minimized by the daily laundry, or the packed day-planner, or the scrolling of social media. We tuck Him away under the clutter of the busyness of life . . . until we are brought to our knees with the pain of the curse. Until we are again reminded of the fact that things will not always go on as they are now.

The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away (Psalm 90:10).

But toil and trouble does not have to define our life, yes, our days here are limited, but under His guidance, even our brevity can make significant impact.

The song goes on to give us some important instructions:

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12).

“Numbering our days” involves reminding ourselves of the limits of this time frame, the limits of our own bodies, and the necessity of applying our limited energy and days to something more than the pleasures or cares of this life. Because we find deep satisfaction in Him (when we abide in His shelter; His presence), the affliction of this short life can be covered by His steadfast love and because of that, we can experience great joy in productivity and in fulfilling His purposes for limited days.

Satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as You have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil. Let Your work be shown to Your servants, and Your glorious power to their children.

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands (Psalm 90:14–17)!

Did you start this morning by acknowledging your smallness? By letting Him know your great need for Him and your desire to find refuge today in Him? Will you ask Him to establish the work He has for you this day?

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius at www.freedigitalphotos.net

read more

Why I Wrote “Fierce Women”