As I force myself to sit down and write, I think of Paul in prison. A cold cell with only the light from a small window he writes, “Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering . . . I am glad and rejoice with you all (Philippians 2:17).” Chapters like Philippians 1-2, James 1, 2 Corinthians 1, and 1 Peter 1 all of a sudden are alive and moving. Trials, suffering, faith, joy, grief . . . patient endurance are no longer black letters neatly laid on a thin white sheet of paper.
I am Paul, sitting in my own cell, writing from the Spirit of God living inside of me. I write through my loss and the heartache to others who read what I write, and the words come alive because they also have loss and heartache. These specific symbols of language called letters, form words and become a fragrance that is inhaled. It is ingested so deep that it affects and changes your soul.
Breathe in, “Blessed be the . . . God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction” (2 Corinthians 1: 3-4) Inhale it so it resonates and does not leave.
Take another deep breathe and ingest, “Count it all joy, when you meet trails of various kinds.” Gulp down the thick substance. Never before were words so difficult, but also so full and satisfying. “For you know that the testing of your faith produces ‘hupomone’ that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
Hupomone, Greek for steadfastness, a patient enduring. The words, patient enduring, spread like a cloud in all directions, enveloping me so that I cannot see. All night long I breathe it in; patient enduring, enduring through my suffering . . . patiently. I am promised that I will lack nothing and yet through my loss I feel that I am lacking everything. I don’t see how I could ever be full, but I continue to breathe in the aroma of the living word.
I have read these words before but never before have they become more than words. Now, because of my pain and loneliness, it’s real. I don’t believe this chapter, this passage, these words written 2000 years ago, could have ever become real without knowing suffering. I find myself desperate and dependent on the only thing that’s of worth to me. I am thankful I know Jesus and his love for me.
In my grief, He’s my only. And now . . . I know what that really means.