When life goes up in flames

Photo by Stephen Radford on Unsplash

God, sometimes there are no words.

What can one say when a mother who has made her way safely through the explosive streets of Syria weeps for her seven children lost to flames in a “safe” country, in the sleepy quietness of their own beds? When her husband can’t even weep with her as he lies in a coma? What words could possibly express the depth of the anguish, or speak the least bit of comfort into a pain like that?

Across the world we stand in stunned silence, the grief in our own gut swallowing words we might once have had.

Words, which sometimes seem so powerful, aren’t enough for a pain like this.

They aren’t enough even for the smaller flames licking around the edges of our own lives, consuming us in a slower, more hidden way: the burns of radiation on one body, of grief in another; the unexpected explosion of words or tears fuelled by hidden pain that is forcing its way to the surface, crying, “See me! Hear me! Love me!”

Everything in me aches with the longing to comfort, to help, to compensate for the terror and make the wrong right. I feel again my smallness, my lack of power against the flames.

I can find only three words: Lord, have mercy.

They seem so small. 

But as I wait in the silence, the weight of it all heavy within me, I realize all over again: 

You, God, know that words, though strong enough to speak the world into being and to call Lazarus from the grave, are not enough for the greatest of our pains.

You know that pain of the heart can’t be touched with an appeal to the head. We need to be met in that place of our pain, heart to heart, gut to gut, the pain shared rather than reasoned into submission. 

And so You come to us not first as a teacher with lessons to impart, but as a father who has compassion on his children, a mother who can’t forget the child she has borne and quiets us with her love, a midwife who, rather than explaining the principles of labor, stays close, a calming presence, and helps us find courage to keep breathing through the pain.

You come as our father, running into the flames to rescue your children.

As our mother who will one day wipe away our tears forever. And who longs for us to turn from the corner where we ache alone and weep our pain on your shoulder and begin to receive your comfort now.

For this is what the LORD says:

“. . . As a mother comforts her child,

so I will comfort you. . .” (Isaiah 66:12-13)

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Donna Howley

    Thank you Caroline ,you put into words so beautifully what we are all feeling but can’t express .the pain,the heartache,the loneliness,the devastation,the emptiness,..there are no words to comfort that dear mother ..BUT GOD ??

    1. hearingtheheartbeat

      Yes, what would we do without the wonderful truth of “but God. . .”???

  2. Joyce Jagt

    My continuous prayer two weeks ago while Tricia lay in ICU was just that…”Lord, have mercy”. And he was gracious toward her and has restored her life.

    1. hearingtheheartbeat

      Mine too! And I’m so so grateful he did!

  3. Julie Flemming

    Thank you we have to remember that God has a plan.

  4. Doris Dahl

    Yes, I pray also,”God have mercy. The pain in that mother’s heart makes my problems insigmifficant. How can one survive such a loss without the Lord?He iswho I go to when things go wrong, or not as I expect.My sustainer! Praise be to Him.
    Thank you, Caroline for your deep thoughts and well chosen words.

  5. Klara van der Molen

    So beautifully expressed and written, thank you.

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