All Will be Redeemed

This world houses massive quantities of pain and hurt. Collectively, humanity carts along more agony than we can bear to imagine. The hurt and pain in my life is but a tiny microscopic drop in the bucket of brokenness, but it is completely real to me. I am not Job. His agony was unfathomable. I have never been told to curse God and die, never been covered head-to-toe in excruciating boils, never lost all of those whom I love and care for. I am infinitely blessed. And I also inhabit a body and life of pain. 

I am sitting in the pediatric wing of the hospital that I visited on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday (for myself and children). I am craddling a sleeping toddler, who is struggling to breathe and hooked up to oxygen. Thank the Lord that he will be just fine. We just need to get through the winter of respiratory viruses. But it is still difficult to rock your suffering baby in the hospital, four days after rocking your other suffering baby in the hospital, in between your own twice-weekly visits to the hospital for infusions, awaiting your surgery the following week. 

One of the silver linings is that we will hit our out-of-pocket max for insurance by April. And my husband is already at the hospital when he is called on to visit sick parishioners.  And come spring, at least the children will probably be healthy again.

But it is hard. We are longing for wholeness, longing for healthy bodies and souls. Longing for a world where there is no need for infusion centers, hospitals, and oxygen tubes.  Longing for redemption of all the bad and broken stuff in the world. Can God redeem all of it? Can He make all things right? ALL OF IT? Even death? 

I see glimpses of the promise of redemption like collisions with another dimension or universe. The 17-month old in his hospital gown with cartoon tigers and yellow trim tripping over his cords to get to the hospital room window to squeal at the blue sky and sun shining in the midst of his coughing fits. Sitting in the infusion center laughing with the nurses over the probability of pets meeting us in heaven.  The kind nurses bring Dora stickers to a restless little girl waiting for her fever to go down in the ER. Glimpses of the kingdom-present and future. Beauty flashes her persistent face in the trenches and promises to take a permanent position when all is made new and death is defeated. 

I know that all will be redeemed because I know my Redeemer. I also know that all is being redeemed because I see it all the more clearly in the brokenness.  We are going to be okay, and we absolutely aren’t alone.

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3 thoughts on “All Will be Redeemed

  1. I’m still discovering where I stand on my “faith”–I believe in Jesus and a higher power as well as other prophets..I’m not sure. I also like Buddhism and Taoism and even some of the Quran is beautiful. Have you read my poem “Empty Churches”–it’s about losing it, going mad, in the hospital, juxtaposed with my grandmother praying for me alone in church before she died. I thik if you read it, it’ll give you a better idea of how I feel. I love love love your writing and your honesty. You have talent, my friend.


    The space between
    faith and falling—as thin
    as my grandmother’s sheets

    my mother told me that before you died
    you used to go to the church
    when it was empty at 6 a.m.
    and pray for me

    she whispered to blessed wombs
    I mouthed the words to myself:
    “don’t die”

    in the hospital I imagined you
    on your knees in the pew,
    fingering the sacred beads
    your whisper, your serious face–
    like when you had
    inspected my wounds over the years,
    that serious look you had
    when you healed things you could heal,
    your hands starting to gnarl from arthritis,
    working out the sliver

    her repetition of deliverance to
    painted saints chipping off the walls
    as I plea further to nothing but
    my own will and hospital sheets:
    “don’t die”

    the focus in your eyes—intent
    on faith healing wounds you
    couldn’t touch;
    the focus in mine—the
    machinery of my mind,
    synaptic failure between
    iron gears closing their teeth

    her tarnished jewelry clicks against the beads that slide into the next prayer;
    I stand at the double-paned window in room six,
    watching the snow fall,
    emptiness annihilating the teachings
    “don’t die”

    I wish I could tell you
    what I saw. I wish I could show you
    the rot that was there–
    injections of anti-psychotics
    and sedatives like antibiotics
    for a chronic infection in the heart

    she reaches the end and sits for
    a few moments in the quiet;
    in my waking nightmares
    I stand before her memory, full of shame
    and confessing in the dark:
    “I want to die.”

    I imagine her up in a heaven
    I had pictured back in grade school,
    leaving the light on over the sink for me
    like she used to when I slept there
    on the nights her cancer took hold

    The space between
    faith and falling—

    blinding linens, her knotted hands
    on the clothespins, pulling down
    the white cord beneath white clouds
    by the birch tree

    and myself—discovering what she had always known:
    surviving doesn’t mean you believe,
    it means you love

    1. This is a stunning poem. I think that we all hover in this in-between on some level. I will be praying for you as you engage this exciting and sometimes scary journey of discovery.

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Pastor Al Gilbert

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