Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Under His Guard

"The Guardian Angel" Henri Decaisne

I happened to catch a glimpse of this painting in the calendar we got from the Church last year.  I was immediately struck by the emotion it evokes for me: the worry, the exhaustion, the ache captured so vividly in the image of the mother resonates so acutely with my first experience of motherhood.  Along with the immense joy I felt with the birth of my daughter came an aching I had never experienced before. The only way I can describe it is that I felt the weight of the world fall upon me. I felt suddenly and deeply aware of all the pain and the suffering endured by others. I felt afraid for the pain this imperfect world would bring for my small, precious baby. I worried that her pain would break my heart and, at times, it seemed that all the worry, the stress, the physical exhaustion would break me completely.

I recall one night in particular when I was trying (unsuccessfully) to calm my very fussy daughter. It was the middle of the night and I was running on almost no sleep. My hormones were in postpartum crash-mode, and I was at my wit's end. I tried expressing my anguish in prayer, but the only words that I could seem to form were "Jesus, help me" over and over again. It was only in this moment that I started to realize how much I had been trying to "carry" on my own. I had let my frustration and fear  cause me to be short-sighted. Instead of handing over the future and the problems of this broken world to Him, I had been trying to carry them on my own and was failing miserably. When I finally realized that my only hope was to rely on His strength, I was able to regain the hope I had lost and found my strength renewed. Looking back, I realize how much He was with me through this tough time, even though I wasn't always aware of it.

Yes, the world is still a very scary place. There is still suffering and sin and, unfortunately, my daughter will have her own share of that suffering. But I also have a renewed hope in the promises of Easter; the promise that "God's dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them...He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, (for) the old order has passed away" (Rev. 21:3-5). The guardian angel in this painting is such a great reminder of this Christian hope for the future. We are always in His gaze and under His guard.

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