My husband died in May 2001; in September of that year the twin towers fell and our nation suffered a loss of security and peace it has yet to regain. It wasn’t until then that the reality of being alone really hit me. All summer I had lived in a fog, trying to take care of business, gather equipment for a farm sell, set up an estate through which to handle the farm business, sell our produce at the local market, and a dozen other things which demanded my attention.
As my children and I listened intently to the news that morning of September 11, I suddenly felt very alone and vulnerable and for several weeks as I watched the seasons change and autumn began to settle on the plains, my heart wrestled with a confusing mix of fear, grief, and loneliness. During that time I found great comfort to in 2 Corinthians, particularly in chapter 12. Although the infirmity to which Paul is referring was different than mine, I felt my singleness was a weakness over which I had little or no control and the Lord’s words to Paul in 12:9, “…My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness….”, became an anchor for my soul.
This morning as I walked among fall flowers and felt the cool breeze even through my light sweater, I realized another year is passing and cooler weather is once again ushering in another autumn. I have a friend who tells me that autumn makes me melancholy or in her words “sappy”. Perhaps it is the memory of grief that has settled hard upon me during this season, or perhaps it is the shorter days, but once again I have found myself wrestling with a mix of emotions; however it is not always easy to recognize what has robbed me of my peace and contentment.
But God is faithful and merciful unto us and He uses many things in our lives to gently bring us to our knees and back to Him. This morning a recent conversation with a dear friend had lead me back to 2 Corinthians 12 and the scriptures there reminded me of that time in my life when I felt so vulnerable and alone and the comfort I had found in that chapter. Pondering these things while I read, I also found myself humming an old hymn, Come thy Fount, and the words, “Prone to wonder, Lord I feel it…” suddenly seemed very real in my life.
I realized that I have developed a false sense of power and control because I no longer see singleness as a weakness in my life and therein lays my weakness. I am a prideful Pharisee who hears about other single women and thinks, “thank you Lord, that I am no longer needy and vulnerable. I have a house, a good job, and grown children”. It is no wonder I am discontent and restless because inwardly I know my heart has deceived me. It is true that I am blessed with a house and a good job, but when I rely on my own strength to save me – to provide for me and my family – I cannot hold up under the burden and in my weakness I crumble.
Oh but what comfort there is to know, “…My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” I pray for the humility to say as Paul, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
And so I find myself humming, “O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be! Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee.”