Thy Rod and Thy Staff
by Lori Heine
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Many very godly people have undergone dark nights of the soul, sometimes for years. Mother Teresa struggled with that. St. John of the Cross famously wrote about it.
I am now going through the very painful process of coming out as a person suffering from a mental health condition. Since I previously came out as a lesbian, I can attest that this is a much more difficult process. Coming out of the heteronormative closet is a process, too—by no means a “wham, bam, thank you, ma’am” affair. But it was a stroll in the park compared to this.
Through it all, however, God has never let me feel as if He’s left me. This is all pure grace. I’m certainly not a spiritual Olympian of the caliber of Mother Teresa or John of the Cross. I can by no means claim that I deserve it. Perhaps I’m not as strong in the faith as they were, so God knows that I simply need it.
God knows what each of us needs. As the jubilant hymn declares, “God is good—all the time.” Other people frequently fail to understand us. Sometimes they judge us quite harshly. But God judges us with infinite love, understanding us far better than we do ourselves.
When we realize that everything good that comes to us flows out of the superabundance of God’s grace, it frees us. We don’t need to worry about earning it anymore. No one can possibly earn it—not even a saint. In Christ’s eyes, we are all saints. All He wants is our gratitude and love. And He has more than earned that.
We are saints because God welcomes us. That’s the powerful, life-affirming and sometimes life-saving truth that LGBT Christians especially understand. It’s the special gift that God has given us. And it’s the special gift that He has entrusted us to share with the world.
© 2018 Lori Heine
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