Monday, April 18, 2011

Incense Trees

My health, I confess, is rather quickly deteriorating. It seems that each week, I develop new symptoms, and my old ones get a little worse. The medication does not seem to be working.

I have days when I feel a bit hopeless, discouraged. But really, more than anything else, I feel badly about every one else who is affected by this. It breaks my mother's heart. My sister feels helpless. My friends have pretty much stopped calling, not knowing what to say.

Worst of all, my husband and children, who see me every day, and watch me struggle. Two of my children, while saying prayers this week, broke down crying. My husband is trying to finish up his last couple of college classes, work a new job, and take care of me and our children on top of it all.

In many ways, I feel like a burden. I wish, when my mother called, I could tell her how much better I was doing. I am still hoping (and praying) that I will be able to do that, soon.

I don't like what is happening to me, I don't understand it all. But I do trust God.

Julian of Norwich shares these words, that resonate with my own heart:

"But sometimes it cometh to our mind that we have prayed long time, and yet we think to ourselves that we have not for our asking. But herefor should we not be in heaviness. For I am sure, by our Lord's signifying, that either we abide a better time, or more grace or a better gift."

Amy Carmichael says, "Let us face it now: which is harder, to be well and doing things, or to be ill and bearing things? It was a long time before I saw the comfort that was in that question. Here we may find our opportunity to crucify that cowardly thing, the softness that would sink to things below, self-pity, dullness, selfishness, ungrateful gloom."

She wrote this while very ill, bedridden in fact.

She also wrote of incense trees, which only grew "in a blistered land, naked to the sun, covered for miles with sand, broken stones, or bare rock, almost waterless, almost treeless." Yet incense, the almost universal symbol for worship, prayer, adoration- was found in just such a place.

She goes on to explain that when we find ourselves in these desert places, we can find our incense trees or we can miss them, but if we miss them, we can find them no where else.

God sometimes allows trials, but he always brings beauty for ashes. I have to ask myself, am I finding those incense trees? Am I allowing this desert place in my life to be a place of worship, of prayer, of adoration?


  1. My sweet friend, thank you for sharing your heart. I love the applicable regardless of the trials we are encountering. And the incense trees. Makes me think of the land where we first met. You were one of the great beauties in a harsh, dry land. Still are!

  2. My heart is heavy for your burdens! How I pray that you can taste the sweetness of more grace and better gifts until the "better time."
    Every heart bears its own sufferings... and its own joys. How I pray that Jesus might manifest Himself to you through a deeper intensity of Spirit power, in your mind, in your heart and in your body!
    Love you!!

  3. I can only imagine what you are going through....I see what my brother is going through and I wish I could help him...take away the pain....some days he does not get out of bed. But my friend you have something he does not....God. Even in the midst of your trial yet you are praising are letting Him use you for His glory!!!! What a powerful testimony!!!! Know I am praying....and so are many others....Thank you for your words!!

  4. I'm so thankful that you shared this. Knowing that the hard times are to bring us closer to God and teach us how to worship is such a blessing.

  5. second one in a row on trial...we each have ours...i am sorry yours is as hard but i hope in haing it that you do find those trees...

  6. I'm sorry to hear about your illness.But you are right, He brings beauty out of ashes, and you're on your way to finding the incense trees with that perspective.

  7. Oh those incense trees are beautiful. An amazing illustration. Worship, sister, these moments are so precious to Him. And I don't know what is going on with your health but I just stopped typing to pray for your complete healing, for Him to do good work in you and to comfort and strengthen your family. And have you ever heard the desert song? You might like it.


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