Days of Grace: Meditations and Practices for Living with Illness by Mary C. Earle. 

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Day Twenty-Seven

Where Can I Flee from Your Presence?

Written By Mary C. Earle

Practice Note

Meditation: <listen>

Where can I go then from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I climb up to heaven, you are there;
If I make the grave my bed, you are there also.
—Psalm 139:6-7

Living with illness takes us into contexts that can be harrowing. Some of us live through complicated surgeries. Others endure the steady diminishment of physical or mental capacity. Others struggle to live with a condition that has no cure.

The assurance of our faith is this: there is no place, no circumstance, where God is not present. There is no place where the Spirit of God does not breathe. There is no place in which God chooses not to be.

A friend of mine who has lived with a lot of loss and illness in her family says this: “If God isn’t telling us in Jesus that all of this is held in God’s embrace, then I am out of here.” 

I love her honesty. I love her ability to take the experiences she has lived with—some of them so grievous—and state that in those experiences, God is there. She is not someone given to saccharine versions of faith. Her life has been too hard. She has shaken her fist at God and cried out. She has felt sad and abandoned. And over the years, she has learned that God is with her, in all the dyings and risings of her life.

Help me, when I do not see or understand, to trust in your presence, O Christ. Help me, when my body hurts and my spirit fails, to know that I am in your hands. Help me, when the circumstance of illness breaks my heart, to know that You weep with me. Amen.

Practice: <listen>

Recall a moment in your life with illness when you have felt no one else understood or felt as you have. Return to that moment in your memory. As you do so, see that Christ is there with you, both in the remembering and in the moment as it was lived. How do you respond to Christ’s presence with you?    

Reference Note: All  psalms are taken from the psalter in The Book of Common Prayer, 1979.