November 24, 2011


Posted in Grief, Suffering, Thankfulness, The Eucharist at 8:15 am by Teresa Roberts Johnson

With open hands I will abide
Ready to take what You provide
Or to release what You require,
Following You through flood or fire.
For Your kind mercies heal my soul
When pain and sorrow take their toll.
Your brightest blessings bring delight
Even when terrors pierce the night.

Though cruel is the curse of sin,
You send Your peace to reign within.
And therefore will I thankful be
For all You give or take from me.
Your mercies are forever new;
My weary heart finds rest in You.
With open hands I’ll trust You, Lord,
Praising You now and evermore.

Copyright © 2011 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

This is one of those poems that doesn’t emanate from a specific passage but draws together various threads throughout the Scriptures. My purpose was to define the nature of the Christian life as essentially one of thanksgiving. (The word in Greek that means “thanksgiving” is the one from which we derive the word “Eucharist.”) In Christ, our lives are to be filled with such deep faith in the goodness of God that we remain grateful and content in our circumstances, no matter how dark they may seem (Philippians 4:11; II Timothy 6:6-8). This was the faith of Joseph, who understood that all his trials were designed not to break him but to sanctify him. This was the faith of Paul, whose writings are filled with the message of faith that is not merely an abstract belief in the facts of salvation in Christ but in a living, breathing trust that “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well” (if I may borrow from St. Julian of Norwich).

Each of us carries a weight of one kind or another. It is either the weight of sin, made heavy by doubt, fear, and separation from the God in whose image we were created, or it is the blissful weight of glory, which enables us to be pressed on every side but somehow never crushed (II Corinthians 4:8). The weight of sin will eventually break and undo us. The weight of glory will make us what we were always supposed to be. How can we not be grateful for that?

As we live with open hands, trusting that God will give us exactly what we need and will not take away anything that is necessary for our life in Him, we find contentment in the midst of great trials, and we show forth the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

(Posted on Thanksgiving Day, 2011)

The original version of this poem was written February 6, 2008, one short week after my son died. No matter how much time passes, I will always miss him. But I will also always trust that God was working for him and for me exactly what each of us needed.

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