Tag Archives: sorrow

Only God’s World [Poem by Mom]

Some months ago a friend asked if I would write about why I am interested in theology. There are a lot of answers to that question. The most important answer is one that leads into this month’s poem from Mom: I am interested in theology because theology is ultimately the study of God, and the better we know God, the better we can trust him.

Yes, I realize this doesn’t always seem true. Sometimes in our walk with God we discover, to use C.S. Lewis’s famous words, that “he isn’t safe.” And it may take longer to learn the rest of the couplet: “But he’s good.”

But listen to these words of Scripture. Isn’t it ultimately true that the better we learn to know God, the better we can trust him? Listen to the testimony of David:

And those who know your name put their trust in you,
    for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. (Ps. 9:10)

…And the insights into God’s nature that Abraham, the friend of God, possessed:

…The God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist… No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. (Rom. 4:17, 20-21)

And consider the two-fold confidence of true faith:

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Heb. 11:6, emphasis added)

Only with a firm grasp on the existence and goodness of God can we survive the apparently meaningless suffering of this world. Only when we are confident that God grasps us can we rest in his care. Theology—the rational study of God’s character and actions, past, present and future—can thus be a springboard for a faith that carries us far beyond what our rational minds can understand.

I’ll let Mom continue from here. May God strengthen your faith as you read her words.


God has created us as rational beings, but because we are limited in knowledge and bounded by time and space, the key to peace of mind in this sin-cursed universe is not reason, but faith. Totally senseless accidents occur and tragedy stalks our days on earth. But “God is love” and “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” I John 4:8;1:5 That is the only safe foundation for security and sanity.

This poem was written in 1999 after an accident that was not only tragic but full of painful ironies. Parents of 3 die during safety stop read one newspaper headline. Why should two loving parents die while attempting to secure their children’s seat belts, leaving three very young children behind as orphans? Why should God allow the foot of a conscientious father to slip at an intersection with a dangerous incline?

Though we were not closely acquainted with the family, we, like many others in our broader church family and beyond, were deeply moved by the incident. How do we interpret our world and our God at such a time? Only by holding fast to faith in our unchanging God and in His love for us can we find comfort. Only by believing His good intent for His children can we find hope and meaning in an unpredictable and often painful world.

Some of my poems expressing grief are free-verse, apparently as spontaneous and uncontrolled as the tears and confused outpourings of a broken heart. This poem is a sonnet, very structured in form, perhaps an attempt on my part to impose form and pattern and some reason on an unpredictable world. But my ultimate hope rests on God’s promises of a new heaven and new earth where perfection will finally be realized and our anguished questions will be a dim memory.


ONLY GOD’S WORLD

Why trust this God Who labelled His world good,
With perfect seasons carefully designed,
If senseless accidents can still intrude
And rend the closest ties of humankind?
What world but God’s endures loss and survives,
Can bear and beautify, can make grief seem
The awful tragedy it is, in that our lives
Require divine involvement to redeem?

For in a world that claims no God but chance,
There chaos is the norm and trust deceived.
All grief’s a joke where all is happenstance,
All love a waste where none can be believed.
If you would have your sorrow honoured, keep
Your faith in God Who sits with you to weep.

—Elaine Gingrich, December 1999

Note: This poem was printed in The Midwest Focus and later anthologized in Reflections of God’s Grace in Grief (c. 2009) which was written and compiled by Faythelma Bechtel, a dear lady who is closely acquainted with grief.


For the rest of the poems in this monthly series, see here.

And if you enjoyed this poem, leave a comment here for Mom, or send her an email at MomsEmailAddressImage.php.  Thanks!


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At Christmastime; Christmas Comes Again [Poems by Mom]

It’s time for more of Mom’s poems. This month I’m sharing two of her Christmas poems. Enjoy!

(Tips: Read these poems aloud to hear them best. And see here for an introduction to this series.)


 AT CHRISTMASTIME

At Christmastime the bells of joy
Ring out in every town–
But it was for our sorrowing
That Jesus Christ came down.

At Christmastime the carollers sing
To celebrate good cheer.
But still Christ comes to comfort those
Who shed a private tear.

At Christmastime the Christ was born
To heal our grief and pain.
And soon to banish death and tears
The Christ will come again.

– Elaine Gingrich  (shared on her 2014 Christmas cards)


CHRISTMAS COMES AGAIN THIS YEAR:
TO LOVE IS TO WAIT FOR

(I Cor. 2:9; Isaiah 64:4)

Once again, Lord, Christmas finds us waiting,
Needy, with great want for You and Your coming,
Like Mary awaiting her birth pangs,
And old Simeon waiting to die.
We are weary of groaning and wanting.
But without want, we would have no need of hope,
And Paul states we are saved by hope,
Like the wise men with eyes on the sky.
What shall we do with this severe blessing of waiting,
Of hopefully living without?

Waiting is the time for preparing…

An open door, a welcoming heart,
A costly gift and a packed bag for the journey to worship.

Waiting is the time for remembering…

Ancient prophecies finally fulfilled,
A virgin, a baby, the angels, a star.

Christmas is waiting for a promise to come true,

Doing without until the gift is ready.
Maybe there is not even a scrap of tissue in sight—
But if we know that the one who promised loves us,
Then we know that it is worth our while to keep waiting.

To love is to wait for.

Do we truly know the One who promised Christmas?
Do we love the One who said that he who waits will not be disappointed,

Will not be embarrassed in front of the watching world?

Because He will come again and keep His Word!
He said that the crown is laid up, that the gift may tarry,
But in the fulness of time, behold He will come quickly!
But sometimes when the race is hard and the wait is long
Our nights are spent impatiently watching for a star bright enough to guide us,

Trying, with our prayers, to punch holes in heaven’s brass canopy,
Filling empty space with despairing baby-faith cries.

Meanwhile the Star pinpricks through the cloudy curtain.
We feel an unexpected warmth behind us
Warming our bent backs, stooped under heavy burdens.
We turn and raise our damp eyes to the kindest light
Piercing the gloom with an undeserved grace,

Spotlighting the Desire of the ages—

The Healer of our hearts with smiling face

Lying in a simple stable,
Revealed in an old Book.

The pages turn and the glory burns ever brighter,
Delighting with miracle and majesty,

Truth and transformation,
Wisdom and comfort;

Giving and demanding all that we are and have.
Emmanuel! God is with us while we wait.
Till He comes, the long-awaited One!

 Lord, this Christmas may I again face the darkness with hope,
           And humbly accept this gift of waiting.           
                                 To love is to wait for.

Elaine Gingrich,  December 13, 2012/December 14, 2014


Two Poems, One Hope

At first glance these two poems are very different. One trips with apparent innocence through three short, parallel stanzas. The other explores unguided paths of free-verse thought.

Thematically, however, the poems are similar. Both confess our human groaning and pain; both look to the past, the present and the future, discovering hope; both long for Christ to come again; and both wonder that “God is with us while we wait.”

One poem exudes radiant hope; the other waits long to unwrap the gift of hope with “not even a scrap of tissue in sight,” until finally hope glimmers in the dark. Whatever your experience this season, “may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Rom. 15:13).

As Mom says, “Christmas is a bit like signs of spring in the heart of winter, but the actual change of weather is still to come, and so we ache for the full radiance of the Son in that day when we shall be with Him and when our world will be made new. Meanwhile He is with us, warming our hearts and lighting our imperfect world with a hint of heaven.”

If you enjoyed these poems, leave a comment here or send an email to Mom at MomsEmailAddressImage.php.  She’ll enjoy hearing from you!


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