The following is one of the most beautiful birthday messages I’ve ever received. With my dear friend’s permission, I’m sharing it here because I believe this will speak to others who are fighting to find hope and beauty in the midst of great struggle:
Karen, you are my friend who has now twice been found by God in the desert. You are my friend who has now twice bloomed in the winter. And, you are my friend who has taken every drop of rain you have been grown with, and faithfully shared it out.
I hope that our paths frequently cross. I hope to serve with you. And, I do hope to cook with you at least once or twice more. But, above that, I hope that you constantly cross paths with the hurt, the weak, and the downtrodden, and deliver His hope to them, just as He has given this hope to you. The humanly impossible lives so brightly within you, and people will clamor for it in the midst of this world’s limitations.
Happy birthday Karen, I pray more joy and life for you than I can ever envision, and I know God will see it done.
What made it so special to me? It doesn’t serve to flatter and glorify the recipient, but rightfully gives all due honor to our Heavenly Father. It also captures a beautiful paradox that’s been on my mind: the rounds of suffering God has brought me through have made me both weaker and stronger at the same time. I was made weak in the sense that I can no longer think to rely on myself. To the world this is weakness — a lack of self-belief and self-determination — but truly, this “weakness” makes me stronger than I could ever be on my own. Because I now stand on a Rock so solid, more solid than a million times all the strength I possibly could muster within myself.
I will end with a fitting excerpt from one of my favorite poems, The Flower by George Herbert:
Who would have thought my shrivel’d heart
Could have recover’d greennesse? It was gone
Quite under ground; as flowers depart
To see their mother-root, when they have blown;
Where they together
All the hard weather,
Dead to the world, keep house unknown.
These are thy wonders, Lord of power,
Killing and quickning, bringing down to hell
And up to heaven in an houre;
Making a chiming of a passing-bell,
We say amisse,
This or that is:
Thy word is all, if we could spell.