Mercy That Leaves a Limp

I took my ragged self to bed and slept. It was the kind of sleep I imagine Jacob enjoyed while wrestling with God all night.

Genesis 32 tells us that Jacob put his lonely, scared, selfish self to bed under the stars (so weary that he didn’t care his pillow was a stone) only to find himself wide awake and desperately grappling for his life throughout the long night.

And when the morning sun broke across the sky, Jacob found himself face to face with an opponent whose sweat and breath and purpose were mingled with his own. And God finally spoke, “Your name will now be Israel, because you have striven with God and men, and you have prevailed.”

And then God blessed him. Not with an oasis in the wilderness; not with a ministering angel carrying a feather pillow, or a Good Samaritan with Epsom salts and a hearty breakfast. God didn’t even bless Jacob with an explanation of what had just happened to him in the dead of night! No, God blessed Jacob with 1) his presence, and 2) a limp.

Take a minute with me to be stunned that we have a God willing to come down, take on our flesh, mingle his own divine breath, effort, and passion with ours, restrain his power and might, and engage in every human way with those he loves as his own.

Perhaps it’s the wrestling in the dark of night where we get to see God face to face? Perhaps this is the real blessing? Perhaps it’s worth the blessing of a limp so that we never forget our new name?

This morning, after a night spent grappling with God, I did not wake to more pleasant circumstances. But I found myself wide awake to God’s nearness, his lovingkindness, and the truth that my limp is far from a curse. It is my blessing.

“Your name is now Christian,” God spoke at my baptism (and speaks every morning if I have ears to hear). “Not because you have prevailed; not because you have striven very well with God and before men, but because my beloved Son already has. Welcome into the joy and purpose for which I made you.”

And as I look at my newly acquired limp, even though I am still weary – even though I am still woefully ragged and frayed – I knew I’ve also been blessed.

Where are you limping? What is it that you wish healed or restored? What shame, regret, or suffering causes you to desperately wrestle with God the most?

Know this: The difficult thing that causes you to limp through this life is not a punishment from an angry or disappointed Father. God is not your opponent, in that he wants to overcome you; teach you a lesson; rub your nose in the dirt until you beg for mercy.

God’s property is always to have mercy. This means that what causes us to wrestle – what results in a limp – is also a means of his mercy. Can we see it that way? Or do we see all that might cause us strain and suffering as the enemy?

Your limp is your reminder that your blessing is secure: You are fastened to God through Christ and all will be well in the fullness of time. God will restore your body and soul to rights; the earth will look and feel like heaven, and everything in our world will be healed and whole.

But today, even as you limp along, who will you trust? This morning, even though you long to be rid of your obvious limp, who will you cling to?

It is not our nature to welcome what would cause us (or our loved ones) to limp even a little. But we have been given a new nature! At our baptism, God spoke and said, “This is my beloved child in whom I am well pleased! My spirit is upon her, and she is marked as my own forever!”

Jesus did not despise those who limped. And in his face, we see the very nature of God. And it is this same Jesus who comes to us; who grapples with us where we are, so we might be more awake, more alive, and more responsive to his kind of love.

Christ’s breath, energy, passion, and even his body is now mingled with our own bodies and souls. Will we strive with him – hold fast to him in this life – even if it means we might limp through the remainder of our days?

If you are wrestling today, cling to Jesus. Refuse to let him go until he blesses you in whatever way he sees fit, even if it means you might walk with him in this life with a limp. This is his mercy.

And if you are sorely limping, fix your eyes on Jesus. Look him full in his wonderful face. Go where he goes, and bless this world in whatever unique way he asks of you. You are not alone – this is his promise.

Peace to you, because you share in the breath, body, and joy of Christ, now and forever.

This is your blessing!

Kim
*Image: Ben Millard Photography

13 responses to Mercy That Leaves a Limp

  1. Angie says:

    Dearest Kim,
    You have no idea how desperately I needed to hear this today. You see, my “wrestling limp” is child loss. What would be my son’s 23rd birthday is coming up in a few days, and I am struggling to stay afloat, to not sink into despair in the darkness of grief that threatens to overwhelm. This will be our 7th birthday without him. But I refuse to let Jesus go. I refuse to fix my eyes on what I have lost. Instead, I will fix them on Him who loves me so, who gave His life for mine. Thank you for being used of God in your writing, for glorifying Christ and using the words you write to lift the burdens of others, to bring hope and healing, comfort and peace.
    Blessings, Angie

  2. Delia Hunt says:

    Dear Kim I am sending this to my friend from fourth grade and my maid of honor. She lost her daughter three years ago and her husband three weeks ago. She and I will be blessed by these caring and careful words. Thanking you in His Name 💕

    Delia Sent from my iPhone

    >

  3. Kim says:

    Oh Angie. My heart is broken wide open for your sorrow and suffering. How much you must miss him. Thank you for keeping your heart open, and not hardening it in self-defense. Thank you for condescending to me and those of us who have not known this kind of pain. May our merciful God draw near as this birthday approaches. And may you known his compassion, comfort, and true peace. I love you (even though I don’t ‘know’ you). – Kim

  4. Kim says:

    Oh Delia, what loss. I am humbled to think these words would provide any comfort at all. But thank you for your friendship to me and many. Much love. And so much grace to your dear friend. Xoxox

  5. Julie Knight Tomlinson says:

    HI Kim, I struggle too with why did I have to lose both a son and a husband. Why does my teenager keep getting further and further behind in his schoolwork ? No matter how hard I push or release and let him decide it still aches almost hourly some days.
    Then a “suddenly” of God comes and I get to sing in a service I was not expecting to at church, and I share how I will continue to praise the Lord always, even in the midst of the hard not understandable days.
    thanks for always being so up front in your blog.
    love Juls

  6. Toni Bond says:

    Kim, This is so hard…like Angie, my “limp” is the loss of my child, my beautiful 11-year-old daughter, Keira, to brain cancer this past summer. I am struggling greatly to comprehend this and, unlike Angie, I cannot seem to focus on much more than our loss. For many months, I focused on Keira’s goal of helping others, but – though that continues – I am now feeling the pull of sorrow and emptiness. I am unable to understand why some people – sometimes really bad people – live until they are ninety amid health, wealth and luxury – while Keira, who loved Jesus and was faithful her whole life, suffered for 6 difficult months and never had a chance. This was a girl who cried on Good Friday just a few years ago because of what Jesus endured. My husband and I struggle to understand why a faithful girl who could have served God so well here on earth was taken so soon.
    I do truly appreciate your words. This particular Given Breath is still helpful – not sugar-coated, not simplistic, but a little explanation for what I seek.
    Thank you for listening.
    Toni Bond xo

  7. Given Breath says:

    Dear Toni, I have not one single word of my own to offer you comfort in your loss. What a hole you must have in your lives. I hear your grief and wish I could sit with you. The only thing I have to offer, humbly, is that God knows what it feels like to lose a faithful and precious child. Our Father knows what it’s like to have the light of his world snuffed out too soon. He knows how it feels to be bereft; cheated out of the most beautiful life.

    That said, though he grieved, he also, ferociously and finally, destroyed the power of death. He raised his broken child whole, new and very alive from the dead. This is your hope and mine too! What seems like an eternity now will pass ( I can only imagine how long each day must feel), but Keira – because of her life in Christ – will not be in the grave forever. She will be raised on that day with all the saints. Raised up to enjoy real life – abundant and free – in a new world ruled with justice and peace.

    May the God of all comfort draw near to you tonight and give you his consolation and peace. You are not alone. You are not alone. You and Keira belong safely and securely to God who is able to keep you from falling.

    Kim

  8. Given Breath says:

    Dearest Jules,

    I am sure the waves of grief never cease from rolling in and catching you unawares. I am so sorry for all that has caused you to suffer so much pain.

    And the schoolwork! Argh! I have one exactly to match yours! Jesus help us all.

    May God give you more light, more patience, and an extra portion of mercy and grace as you hold on tight in love. Please do keep singing:)

    Much love,
    Kim
    PS. Listen to “How Can I Keep From Singing” by Audrey Assad. One of my favorites!

  9. Angie says:

    Toni – I am so sorry for your loss. Goodness, you are SO fresh in grief. I am almost seven years down the road. Please don’t beat yourself up for not being where I’m at. What you are feeling is so normal for this grief journey, I promise. If I may, I urge you to find a GriefShare group in your area. (www.griefshare.org…find one by zip code) Also, there is Compassionate Friends (www.compassionatefriends.org). I also have a “grief” blog (http://awindowintogrief.blogspot.com/p/about-me.html) which many have said has been helpful for them. All of these things helped, but the road to healing is S.L.O.W. It takes intention and a constant leaning into God. Lean into Him, for He is faithful. ((hugs))

    PS – Kim, I hope you don’t mind me posting this info. If you do, please feel free to delete.

  10. Angie says:

    Dear Julie,
    I’m so sorry for your losses.
    I’m not sure how long ago these losses occurred, but I do know most certainly that my other children’s schoolwork suffered as a result of the loss of their brother. My one daughter’s grades hit rock bottom the first after. This is NORMAL for grief. Thankfully, we attended a grief camp where we learned what was expected, what was normal and not, so I simply told her NOT to worry about it. (Our son was 16 when he died, and her 13th birthday was just 4 days after the funeral.) I didn’t push school, and she DID catch right up to where she needed to be that 2nd & 3rd year after Matt died.
    I hope these words are helpful. ((hugs))

  11. Toni Bond says:

    Kim,

    Thank you so much for the reply. I have been reading Given Breath for a long time now, and it is so very nice to hear from you personally. I truly value your wisdom, your faith, and your eloquence.

    One might think that, having lost my daughter, my faith in seeing her again would be strong. In fact, it has wavered so much and I’ve had such fear and doubts I never thought I would. However, I do feel my faith returning, stronger, and I truly appreciate your words in encouraging that. I most especially appreciate your honesty. I want people to say something to make this all go away, but I know they can’t, and it wouldn’t. Instead, I am so grateful when someone can really acknowledge where I am at and still respond with courage and faith – thank you!

    Angie, thank you. We do have The Compassionate Friends here, and I have gone twice. I will return as I hear (read) from so many others that it makes a difference. I will also check out your blog. Sadly, it helps to know I’m not the only one who has endured this. I’m so sorry for you too. In my immediate neighbourhood/circle, there are no others, and that makes it even more difficult. I’ll continue to seek out support in these other ways.

    Keira truly LOVED Jesus and was still praying and making the sign of the cross even when speech was no longer possible…she persevered in faith, and I do know that I must too…thank you again.

    Toni xo

  12. Nomso says:

    You’re such a blessing! Thanks for this amazing piece

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