Our Suffering: the Shadow of His Hand

IG Recap: August 9th and 10th

The Shadow Cast by His Hand

“Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?”

After meditating, I followed an urge to read The Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson.

The poem is compelling and beautiful, even if some of the theological points made near its conclusion are not correct.

I often think about it, but hadn’t read it in its entirety for a while.

And there they were, the two lines above, the breathtaking image of God’s hand outstretched in love, but all I see in my littleness is the shadow, the darkness.

I’ve been sick for a long time. There have been many months of darkness within long years. It’s hard. It challenges your perception of everything, including yourself.

I have explored every avenue for healing, similar to Thompson. He looked everywhere for something to fill him, bring him happiness, to make him whole. He knew deep down where he needed to go, but wasn’t willing yet to face the sacrifices turning to God would demand.

It wasn’t until he was utterly exhausted and decades of his life had wasted away that he gave in to the Lord’s persistent pursuit.

It wasn’t until I was exhausted, broken seemingly beyond repair, and unable to choke down the piles of vitamins or maintain more lengthy protocols that I finally turned my eyes upward again.

It started as brain retraining, which turned into meditating, which as a Catholic meant an infusion of deep prayer and “heart speaking to heart”. It turned into facing wounds, lies, and mistakes I hadn’t seen. The wounds in my heart had hardened and turned into scars, so much so I forgot there was a time they hadn’t existed.

But then, God cut my heart open. He broke down the walls once I welcomed Him in and let in the light, exposing the dirt and dust that had accumulated in my heart and soul.

Sickness is a heavy cross, but it can be carried with joy. My life has been in a shadow, but now I see it is only the shadow of the Cross, and God’s arms are outstretched in love for the world upon it.

I need to keep my eyes fixed higher, on His Heart, and find there within it, finally, all that was taken from me, with Him.

May God be praised.

Refuge Under His Wings

Do you know the beautiful thing about realizing the shadow you’ve been living in is God’s shadow, falling over you as you stand near Him?

You realize that even your dark moments are being woven into your story to be redeemed, made new, and by God’s grace, even act as an essential part of your becoming who He needs you to be.

You realize that you don’t have to hide any of your mistakes and shortcomings from Him, because He’s been too close to miss them. He already knows them, so there is no burden to carry in secret.

This realization makes the burdens that you do still carry – the pain, sickness, or anxiety – much lighter, because they’re being shared with One who loves you.

While everyone around you might have seen the shadow approaching and left you alone, it was His approach that cast the shadow, so even in the greatest darkness, He’s with you.

And once you realize that, even the shadows no longer feel dark. The crosses no longer feel heavy. The light of Christ shines through even the shadows He casts.

For He was light as He hung upon the Cross, was light descending into Hell to gather the faithful, was light shining upon Heaven’s gates as He thrust them open, was light standing the the shadow of the empty tomb, and is light now, upon the altar, within the tabernacle, within the hearts of His children who stand proud upon the hill and let His rays shine over the world as they walk through it.

But to realize this and to let it transform you, you have to stop groveling in the dirt..

You have to look up and learn to love Him in the shadows. Only then can this happen. And the minute it begins to happen, the target on your back will grow. The Devil will hate to see you realizing how close Christ can be to you. So ask the Lord for help, dear soul, and He will protect and strengthen you.

“You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
Say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust.’
God will rescue you from the fowler’s snare, from the destroying plague,
will shelter you with pinions,
spread wings that you may take refuge…
You shall not fear the terror of the night.”

Praise be to God. ❤️ #psalm91

Published by Abigail C. R. Gripshover

Abigail C. R. Gripshover is a Catholic writer and speaker, passionate about the power of God’s love. She has been a voice for the Church online for over 10 years, encouraging her fellow Catholics to embrace the teachings of the Faith in every area of life. In the summer of 2022, she started a new journey of radical healing through radical trust in God. She is feeling called to share her story of chronic illness and God’s healing grace. She holds a B.A. in English Lit from Christendom College and works from home as a freelance copywriter and digital strategist. She and her husband, Bobby, also offer product photography services and love working with Catholic companies. You can connect with Abigail on LinkedIn to learn more about these services and find her business email address.

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