Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter!


…Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27: 46

Recently, I was awakened early, about 5:00 a.m. I couldn’t get back to sleep. I had been working on some writing, reflections of how God had shown up many times in my life. I was thinking along those lines, when my thoughts took a turn in another direction. I started thinking about where God hadn’t been. The conversation went something like this:

“You know, God, there are times I can think of when it really seems like you weren’t there. Or, if you were there, you were allowing stuff that you shouldn’t have allowed. You must’ve turned way. Otherwise, you couldn’t have been there.”

I continued, “Like, where were you during my early, tender years, when my home was so stressful and when the strife of growing up made me feel so isolated?”

In my heart, I heard the Lord reply, “I was in your Grandmother, who I sent to live with you for those years between seven and fourteen.”

And I saw what He meant. There she sat in her big oak chair in the sun parlor. Gnarled fingers laced with rosary beads, prayers whispered endlessly from her lips, transistor radio linking her to the outside world of news, talk, and faith. Her very presence brought peace. She was calm in the midst of the storm. And, though she was poor, blind, hard of hearing, and crippled with arthritis, she was rich with love offered as an endless cup of refreshment.

“Oh, so that was your Spirit, huh, God? Okay, well I see that now. It would have been very different without you…”

The conversation continued. It turns out there were many times I felt all alone, as if God wasn’t there. But as I brought these dark times to God, He was showing me that, in fact, He had been there. Then, I ventured out into a territory of pain that I don’t think I’ll ever understand from my earthly perspective.

“Where were you God when I lost my twins? We were so excited, so captivated by the miracle of expecting not one, but two babies! How could you let that happen?”

“I was there. And I was weeping too. I shared in your grief.”

“I didn’t feel you God!”

“Well, I was there in the grief that you and Dr. Kramer shared. He had lost his brother to suicide just a year before. I brought you each other that day, filled with compassion for one another.”

“Yes, in some way, I suppose, sharing our pain helped both of us, ” I responded. “And the sadness and care of so many, the love for Chris and I that was poured out through that time…that was you?”

“Yes. I was there in your dad, too. Remember? He had to make it through a lot of red tape, walk through forbidden doors to be with you that day. Your dad was there to hold you as you desperately tried to hold on to your babies. I wanted you to know that your dad would walk through fire for you, that he would do anything to be with you in your hour of need.”

“Thank you God. That was a moment of deep love and devotion. Thank you Lord, for your presence. Now I can see things that I never saw before. Thank you for this time together. Thank you for your love.”

What’s Your Story?

God says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
Think about the times when you have felt God was not with you. Times you have felt God was not watching over you. (Not much fun, but you’ve probably felt this, if not thought about it.)
Ask God to show you how He showed up. Ask Him to give you a new, true sense of how, in fact, He was very present in your pain.


  1. i am proud to call you my mother. recently, i have been thinking about the same thing. it hasnt been until recently that i have begun to recognize the people god has been placing in my life for different reasons. it seems as though these people walk right into my life when god is trying to challenge me, comfort me, give me peace that surpasses my own understanding, and, ultimately, reveal his love. it hasnt been until recently that i have been able to really meditate upon the suffering of jesus christ. and still, it is difficult for me to assimilate the beautiful calamity of the sacrifice and suffering that took place on the cross. why is this? why is it that i cant place myself in this situation and really feel the pain that mary must have felt as she watched the complete torture of her own son take place? am i so stuck within myself that i would only be able to appreciate this sacrifice if it were staring me in the face? is that why we suffer? do we take on our own crosses, though incomparable to the cross jesus carried, because that is the only way we can begin to understand the love that god was expressing through the paschal lamb? it seems funny but i think this might be the case. and even in our suffering, god never forsakes us. even in our suffering he blesses us with people. he reveals himself through people. god is great, but funny to me still.
    -catie p.

  2. And I my love and proud to call you my daughter.

  3. Thank you for this ministry, Elise. I enjoy the opportunity to read and reread so I can really be bathed in your contemplations. You have a wonderful gift as a writer and as a Christian woman, and you enrich my life by sharing both so generously.
    God's love,

  4. Hi Lee,
    I am not feeling very connected to God right now, as a matter of fact. So,I think I will take your advice, go for a walk and ask God "So, where are you?" and see what He's got. I know He's here always, but you know those times when the glimpses are hard to come by. It usually seems all or nothing for me.
    I'm not in a gloomy state...I'm just not really catching the Spirit.
    Your story was beautiful.
    love, phyl

  5. Elise, I'm so moved by your honesty, your faith, your searching and loving heart, your eagerness to know Him and love Him more deeply. Your faith and questioning so encourages me ... and what you chose to write about at any given time, well, it's uncanny! Every time you send an update, your topic is exactly in an area where I'm struggling or feeling alone.
    This one -- asking God specifically, "where were you?" -- how powerful and how true to where I am right now. I know He promises never to leave us, but I'm in a place of wondering "Are you in control Lord, 'cause it sure feels like chaos to me!" But then, as I read what you've written, He's reminding me of the times He graciously gave me help and hope in various forms, particularly in the last weeks of my mother's life. When I felt like I couldn't take the stress of "what next?" and the pain of watching her suffer ... when I couldn't cope with the fear and terror of what might be down the road for her and for me, He showed me how He'd sent me help for that DAY. Manna. Daily bread. When I got caught up in fears, anxieties and "what if's" I couldn't stay in NOW. I missed the comfort of His portion for that day. He ALWAYS provides, doesn't He?
    Thank you, Elise, for reminding me of that ... I needed to hear that and thank YOU, Lord, for more of your daily portion through Elise!
    Love and peace to you,


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