“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your [Word]” (Psalm 119:18–NIV).

I’ve prayed this often, adding–

Oh, and Lord–open my ears, too. And while You’re at it, open them not just to Your Word but also to Your created world. Thank You!

After all, shouldn’t it be our desire to both see and hear God in His Word–the Bible–as well as in the world around us? I mean, as the Psalmist David says, there are wonderful things to discover… Right? At least in God’s Word.

I’m finding that this request of mine comes with a caveat, and one does well to pay attention to that for which she asks. Because, while there are always wonderful things to discover in God’s Word, as well as plenty of wonderful things to experience all around us, the opposite is also true. What about the things that aren’t so wonderful? What about the things that cause sadness and pain? Worry and guilt? What about those things–the things that hurt?

I’m personally left wondering, and frankly, I sometimes want to close my eyes and ears to it, tuck tail and run.

Like a week and a half ago, when our son discovered one of our beautiful Scottish Highlander cows dead in our pasture. Even more, she was nearing the day when she was to deliver her baby. Thus, we lost two cows, without any known cause. No real reason that we’re aware of. Just gone, leaving me overwhelmingly sad–not just for a day but for several. My mind anxious–returning over and over to Why? and What if? in my attempt to find some answer for what felt so unjust.

And what about the donkey in a neighboring pasture who brays off and on throughout the day? I personify him–imagining him beside himself with loneliness after the passing of his long-time horse companion who died over Thanksgiving. I take him treats now and then–scratching his face and telling him how lovely he looks on any given day.

And then, there’s the dog I pass when I take our daughter to and from school. She lives in their yard, tethered to a lead which allows her several yards to roam. Her doghouse, though sturdy plastic, looks forlorn to me, and I often imagine her cold on blustery western North Carolina mornings and nights. She’s usually lying in the dirt–barking at the plethora of chickens and other fowl that wander freely about the yard. As I pass I find myself wondering if she ever receives the love she desires–imaging she, too, is lonely. Is she neglected? Abused? Does she have food and water?

I know. I know. I’m ridiculous, right? Likely, there are those of you who are shaking your heads right now as you read this, thinking, There she goes. She’s lost her mind. 

Or perhaps someone else is thinking, I don’t want to read this. It makes me sad too, and she’s likely sharing simply because misery loves company. Bah!

And while this may seem true, there’s more. I know I’m not alone, though I often wonder why God gave me such a tender heart toward suffering–in all its many forms. And while it’s accurate to say that misery is indeed somewhat soothed when the sufferer realizes she’s not solitary in her sentiments, I shudder to think I’d consciously share with another simply for selfish reasons–causing him or her to suffer too. After all, that would merely add one more misery to my life–fretting that I’d caused another pain, even if only emotionally or mentally.

No, there’s got to be more.

So, I ask, and God seems to answer. And again, I see and hear His response, as He shows me through both His Word and in the world around me–though, honestly, I’m ashamed to say that I so often want to place my hands over my hears, close my eyes to things that hurt.

Why the death of our pregnant Highlander, God?

And I open His Word and read–

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Ps. 34:18–NIV).

Then, looking around me, I hear the very next day the heartbreaking story of a young woman, seven months pregnant with a baby girl–both murdered on her quiet street in our small, seemingly safe hometown. And I’m inclined to mourn in earnest on behalf of this woman’s parents, her other child, as well as other family members and friends–all who are suffering the magnitude of such devastating loss, certainly asking “Why?’ and “What if?”

And in some, small manner, my heart understands and is led to pray.


What to do, Lord, about the loneliness of a donkey whose braying interrupts my thoughts–bringing sudden worry and sadness?

And I open His Word and read–

I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along (Ps. 40:1, 2–NLT).

Then, several days later I hear of a friend who lost her son in a tragic automobile accident over the weekend. He lived with her and was so much more than a son. He was a companion and friend in her sometimes dreary world–having lost her husband years earlier and having never remarried. Her 44-year old child was a light in her darkness, but now his presence has been extinguished, and in such a horrific way.

And in some, small manner, my heart understands and is led to pray.


God, do You even care about the seeming neglect, possible abuse, and confinement of this poor dog?

And I open His Word and read–

O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth, I cry out to You for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock for safety, for You are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. Let me live forever in Your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of Your wings (Ps. 61:1-4–NLT).

Then I learn of an autistic child whose parents are meth addicts–neglecting and confining this young boy in a home not fit for an animal. Abused and exposed to things no child should ever have to witness, one wonders, When will justice be served? What can one do?

And in some, small manner, my heart understands and is, again, led to pray.

Perhaps these and the many other injustices and sad circumstances that we each experience in this yet broken world offer opportunities to lean in and listen, square our shoulders boldly to behold–yes, to truly hear and see with courage–the ugly dirt and din of this sin-saturated place we still call home.

Yes indeed. There are wonderful things to discover, but there are also atrocities far greater than those we’ll likely experience most days in our backyards, neighboring pasture lands, or behind the doors of most of our dwelling places.

If we desire to be about God’s business–sincerely meaning what we say when we pray,

Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven… (Matthew 6:10)

Then we should be convicted to turn each and every joy and sorrow into heartfelt praise and fervent prayer. Such a child of God will truly live with eyes and ears wide open and experience His pleasure when He proclaims–

Well done, my good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21).

Dear Jesus, today I’m asking that you, once again, open my eyes and ears to both Your Word, as well as to Your created world. Make each and every sorrow and joy an opportunity to pray and praise. Help me remember that there is no suffering that’s unfamiliar to You and nothing goes unnoticed by You. Your heart breaks far more than mine, and You died and rose so that brokenness doesn’t get the last word. One day–one day–all will be as You intended, when You first spoke the world into being with the breath of Your word. Breathe upon Me, kind Savior, and help me to bring heaven to earth today through the power of prayer. So be it. 


This blog post is dedicated to both Cindy Smith and her unborn baby girl Ryleigh Quinn and Matt Myers. (Their complete obituaries can be found at www.dignitymemorial.com and www.familycareservices.com.)

It’s also dedicated to a nameless autistic boy whose Savior sings over him songs of deliverance (Ps. 32:7)–no matter where he lives or what his circumstances may be.