Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dependence, Not Despair

Wisdom from Henri Nouwen two days in a row? I can't help myself! I find there are very few things that I want to say that haven't already been said eloquently by others. However, no one articulates the life of my heart like Henri Nouwen. So often his words provide shape and definition to my thoughts, instincts, emotions, and suspicions.

When Lent began last Wednesday, it was like a wind blew through my heart and ushered in a spaciousness that had been crushed in recent stress. I felt peace, hope, and a lightness of spirit that had been vacant for a few weeks. Nothing in my external circumstances had changed; however, my gaze had shifted...from my stress and struggles to my Savior.

The challenge is to continue moving - not only through this season but this life - with my eyes locked on Him. Just in the past week I've been so aware of the suffering around me and the burdens so many carry. As I'm invited to journey with others, how do I walk with them through their suffering without despair? Without feelings of impotence because I cannot offer more comfort, wisdom, solutions, et al...?

Here's where Nouwen's words speak to both my situation and to my heart. He writes:
The more I think about the human suffering in our world and my desire to offer a healing response, the more I realize how crucial it is not to allow myself to become paralyzed by feelings of impotence and guilt. More important than ever is to be very faithful to my vocation to do well the few things I am called to do and hold on to the joy and peace they bring me. I must resist the temptation to let the forces of darkness pull me into despair and make me one more of their many victims. I have to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and on those who followed him and trust that I will know.
I so deeply desire to offer a healing response to those God has placed in my path, but it is often tempting to give way to despair and disappear...trust that God has someone better suited to offer wise counsel, more prepared with tangible solutions, and well equipped with the right answers. Nouwen's words remind me to not give way to fear but to walk in my God-given calling. When my eyes are fixed on Him, my calling remains clear and I am able to encounter suffering with a spirit of dependence, not despair.

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