why are any of us here…

“The fact of God is necessary for the fact of man.
Think God away and man has no ground of existence.”

A.W. Tozer

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(Sandpiper in the surf / Grayton Beach State Park / Julie Cook / 2016)

I doubt that there has ever been a single person who,
at some point or another during the course of a life time,
has not pondered the reason for their existence.

Most likely for much of their lives, there are countless numbers of forlorn souls
who have grappled, nay continue to grapple, with this quandary…
…with the very profound depth of such a nagging question…
Longing for some semblance of direction…

Seeking and craving to know what it is that is to be done…
how shall they, how shall any of us, make their mark?
Yearning to know purpose and course…

For some the question and elusive answer is but a fleeting passing of slight discomfort…

However for others, it is a lifetime quest…

To make a difference.
To change the world.
To find one’s place
One’s calling
One’s destiny…

Yet imagine finding yourself in a hopeless situation…
In the midst of misery and death…as life is slowing and agonizingly ebbing away…
Imagine feeling defeated while knowing your very existence is in grave jeopardy.
You are plagued by torment, illness and and evil beyond comprehension…

Do you now shrug your shoulders and concede that all is lost?
As a sickening realization settles over you
that this is simply the destitute lot for which you now reside …

or…

Do you know without doubt or question that no matter the bleakest, darkest circumstance…
there still remains both purpose and reason…

But as the rest of the world grew stranger, one thing became increasingly clear.

And that was the reason the two of us were here.

Why others should suffer we were not shown.

As for us, from morning until lights-out, whenever we were not in ranks for roll call,
our Bible was the center of an ever-widening circle of help and hope.
Like waifs clustered around a blazing fire,
we gathered about it, holding out our hearts to its warmth and light.

The blacker the night around us grew, the brighter and truer and more beautiful burned
the word of God.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”

Corrie Ten Boom reflecting on her time in Ravensbrück Concentration Camp as
was written in her book The Hiding Place.

Prayer of the Afflicted

“Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins, but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces.”
Matthew Henry

“The Lord’s mercy often rides to the door of our heart upon the black horse of affliction.”
Charles H. Spurgeon

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(quince blooms dying on the branch due to the bitter cold / Julie Cook / 2015)

How long O Lord am I to stay
Troubled
Burdened
Broken?

Do you not see or hear me as I lay in misery?
Can you not see that I am afflicted of both mind and body?
I sit in the mire and I need You, desperately
Yet I fear Your silence.

My soul wrestles deep within me
It twists and turns in anguished pain
My body is consumed by the searing heat
as my soul withers in silent torment
Do not forsake me O Lord. . .

Have You turned your back on me?
Have You forgotten your servant?
My mind aches to make sense of this
Yet my soul finds nothing but emptiness
The tormenters mock and scoff at my pleas

What have I done?
What haven’t I done?
You take no delight in burnt offerings or sacrifice
All I have to give to You is a withering body
and an anguished mind–
Up until now that is all I thought I could offer You. . .

Just as I am broken of body and broken mind,
there, however, remains a seemingly impenetrable fortress
The last barrier separating me from all that Is and all that Will Be. . .

My will, which is the last defense of self. . .
Tearing down the unseen walls of ego and pride
Truly giving to You all that I am. . .
Abandoning
Forsaking
Relinquishing
Not only the brokeness of a physical body and brooding mind,
but the final brokeness of self

That I may yield to You O Lord
That I may not fight what happens. . .
As I have truly no control of the unseen events. . .
Rather that I may let go,
The I may truly give it all to You with no looking back
That I may trust
That I may rest
For in my brokeness, I find only wholeness in. . .
You