The one left behind.

Darkness was falling.

The shadows alive with evil.

Her strength failing, she had been struggling to free herself for hours.

Abandoned by the others, she had given up too. But then scarred hands found her, the lost one, and carried her home.

Luke 15:3-7

Jabez.

She named you Jabez.
When wave after wave of the searing heat that had ripped through her belly and skin, had finally cooled and she, exhausted, could finally hold you in her arms, she looked at you and said,
I gave birth to him in pain.
Call him, Jabez.
He makes sorrowful. 
He causes pain.’
I often wonder, ‘
Why?
A mother forgets the pain of birth.
Usually.
But you, born in misery, a maker of sorrow,
 you carried that with you.
Through the years.
Every time your name was called.
A reminder.
Pain.
Sorrow.
Did you ever wonder, why?
Did you silently long for the every-day names of your playmates?
Yes.
I see you.
I see your heart determine not to fail.
I see a young man steadfastly refuse to give in to that which crushed his mother’s heart.
That, which also longed to crush his.
I see you fight not to settle for the destiny that you were named for.
Knowing there’s more.
Knowing that words have power, great power, but never as much power as the One who could breathe hope into a tired spirit.
The One Who longs to speak life into the dry bones of the heart.
Jabez.
Honourable man.
Thousands of years after your name was written on a scroll.
I see you.
I hear what the bible does not say.
Man of great honour.
Defiant one.
You taught me that I too could shrug off a hand-me-down cloak too ill-fitting for my shoulders.
You showed me the way to say, ‘
No.’
No.
I shall not settle for sorrow, though I might be named for it.
And there are many ways to name a child.
I shall not be satisfied with misery, though it might have been a companion for the generations before.
I shall not, forever, carry the bitter disappointments of another.
It is not my load to carry.
It will never be enough, and it will always be too heavy.
And this life has more.
Always, more.
Because He is enough, I can go with outstretched hands and ask for more.
Jabez.
The broken dreams of our mothers were never meant to guide us home.
And there is hope.
There is so much more.
Stand up.
Lift up your head.
Shake off that cloak.
It was never yours, to begin with.

‘Jabez was more honourable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.’

1 Chronicles 4:9-10

© 2017. Liezel Graham. All rights reserved.

Words.

What if my words could be seen on your skin?

Would I consider them more?

Carefully, tenderly picking just the right one.

For you.

Feeling the weight of each syllable heavy on my pregnant tongue.

Ready, to bring life.

A gift.

Each word a balm of hope on your tired, sun-scorched heart.

Or, not.

The choice is mine.

At times I forget.

I refuse to see the reflection of Jesus on your face.

I pick my words like stones off the sin-stained ground.

Weighing them one-by-one.

Choosing just the right one.

To break

you.

To mock

you.

To bind your tired, sun-scorched heart in chains

that might, in time, prove unbreakable.

Such power they hold.

Every word.

Life, or death

on my tongue.

And your heart

in my hands.

Your life

a fragile bird,

struggling.

Within my power to free, or to crush.

Proverbs 18:21

© 2017. Liezel Graham. All rights reserved.

Ransom.

Their anger was alive.

Spitting and frothing it bayed for her blood.

Her sin exposed.

“Our purity demands her life”, they screamed.

A trap for Him, but He held their hearts up like a mirror.

Who could throw the first stone?

Her shame covered by His love.

Redeemed.

Storm.

The storm whipping wildly around me.

Salty mist obscuring my way.

Fear clawing its way through my heart.

Darkness waiting.

Then, Your gentle voice riding on the wind: ‘Come. Follow me.’

I step out of the boat, water cold on feet, Your hand reaching for mine.

Safe.

Writing for the bruised ones.

On Easter Sunday, our little boy became very ill and after an emergency admission to the children’s hospital, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

It has been an interesting few days since. We have been trying to find our way around clinic appointments, low blood sugar, endless finger-pricking and 5+insulin injections per day.

Our little boy is also autistic and has sensory challenges which make the endless injections a challenge for him, at times.

At first, I was just incredibly grateful that God had him so firmly in His hand. We were spared diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) – a critical emergency that claims many lives every year.

I read articles about parents who have lost children due to DKA. I realised how very fortunate we were, and yet, my heart ached for my son. I couldn’t but not wonder just *why* God had allowed yet another challenge in this little boy’s life. As with most of these hard questions that we tend to ask at 3h00 am, I have had no answers. However, I realised that I can’t be the only one asking these questions. There have to be more parents standing before God, faith slightly stunned, trying hard to trust that He knows the way forward and that He is completely in control.

I also realised that many Christians don’t always know how to respond to the hurt and confusion of other Christians. We tend to want to fix things, don’t we? We want to give advice, send scripture, send sermons, even admonish when we feel they are not responding in an acceptably faith-filled manner. I realised this years ago when our son was initially diagnosed with autism, and now again when I shared my heart about my fears about the new challenges of living with diabetes.

And yet, what most of us need at that moment when we share our hearts with others, is a simple, ‘I see you. I hear you. I am here for you. I am praying for you. This too shall pass.’

And because of this, I have decided to focus my writing on those who, like me, feel a little bruised sometimes. Those, like me, who dwell on the edge of faith, but always know the grace of Jesus. Those, like me, who ask hard questions at 3h00 am. Those, like me, who often feel as if we cause discomfort to many in the church. Because we have been prayed for, prayed over, prophesied over, we’ve completed the courses and the assignments and still, our lives seem to resemble the trenches of Job. There is *still* no healing. The challenges are still there. It flies in the face of scripture and our faith, but yet… this is life. Jesus told us that we would face challenges and hardship, even more than those who do not follow Him. But to some this becomes almost an affront. It becomes uncomfortable to hear the voice of the Christian who does not see the desperately sought-for healing. To revisit the life of the one who struggles with illness despite believing God for healing.

We have become so uncomfortable sitting with the broken and the bruised. And yet, God promises that He will never crush a bruised reed, or snuff out a smouldering wick.

So, if you find yourself there. Take heart. You are not alone.

I write for you, and I write for us.

Liezel