When times are hard

I recently picked up Two Part Invention, a book Madeleine L'Engle (author of Wrinkle in Time) wrote on her marriage. She was married for forty years to Hugh Franklin, a Broadway and television actor (a bit of trivia--they lived in the same building as Leonard Bernstein if you can believe it). Recovering from an illness, I'm trying to focus on more uplifting topics, and if I’d read more about the book, I might not have chosen it at this time because there is a sad storyline. Though the book switches between the beginning of their marriage and while Hugh is in his last days, I still found surprising encouragement.

She writes of the importance of humor, joy, and beauty in the challenging times. “I do not want ever to be indifferent to the joys and beauties of this life. For through these, as through pain, we are enabled to see purpose in randomness, pattern in chaos. We do not have to understand in order to believe that behind the mystery and the fascination there is love. In the midst of what we are going through . . I have to hold on to this, to return to the eternal questions without demanding an answer.”

When life hands us difficulties, we are tempted to try and make God explain himself. It never works that way. It’s good to remember we don’t need to demand an answer if we trust God’s love.

I think of Jacob wrestling with a man all night and his hip is wrenched, but still he will not let go when the man asks to be released. Jacob says, “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (Genesis 32:26).  In the end, Jacob realizes he is wrestling with God, and God gives him a new name, Israel. Wycliffe writes, “In the titanic struggle, Jacob came to realize his own weakness and the superiority of the mighty One who had touched him . . . he became a new man, who could receive the blessings of God and assume his place in God’s plan.” When Charles Wesley wrote a hymn from this Biblical story, in response to Jacob’s question about who the man was, he wrote, “Thy nature and thy name is love.”

In the hard times, God’s nature and name is still love. Even when we're wrestling, he blesses us. And if we hold on to God’s love, that love will always carry us through.


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