Across the Pastor’s Desk: Trust in God through hard times
Across the Pastor’s Desk by Mark Boorsma
Although she lived 600 years ago, Julian of Norwich resonates remarkably to these days in which we live. First, she lived during the world’s worst-ever pandemic, the Black Death, during which an alarming mortality rate is calculated to have been between 40 and 60% of the population. Second, she “sheltered-in-place” as a monastic anchorite, meaning that she lived in a bricked-up cell attached to the church building. Third, she wrote movingly of faith and hope in spite of crushing adversity.
Her book Revelations of Divine Love chronicles the mystical visions of Christ she experienced in 1373, and is the earliest surviving book in the English language that is known to have been written by a woman. Perhaps the best-known quote from this book is her “all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well,” expressing faith that God will bend even human sin and failing into the ultimate good which God intends. This honest assessment does not pretend that things are now as they should be, but trusts God to put things right at last.
Her visions of the love and passion of Jesus showed Julian that God’s love and care are certain and sure, summarized in her vision of a “hazelnut.”
“And in this he showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazel nut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed. And it was as round as any ball. I looked upon it with the eye of my understanding, and thought, ‘What may this be?’ And it was answered generally thus, ‘It is all that is made.’ I marveled how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothing for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and ever shall, for God loves it. And so have all things their beginning by the love of God.
“In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it. The second is that God loves it. And the third, that God keeps it.”
These are hard times, a fact it serves no one to deny or minimize. Yet with Julian of Norwich, we trust the God who made, loves and keeps you in the palm of God’s hand, held forever safe and secure.
Mark Boorsma is a pastor at Ascension Lutheran Church in Albert Lea.