At a recent Emmaus, I spoke about the process of grief and how our intense grasps upon the things of this world — even good things — often amplifies the pain when those things are taken away. In a world where change is rapid and ambition is hypervalued, we cling to self-images, pride, fear, relationships, and worry in hopes that we can convince God in our prayers to heed special attention to what we want.
Henri Nouwen describes how this posture is so damaging to our concept of God or his goodness. (Read the article from With Open Hands here.) The daily exercise of trust is one that can restore our joy and peace when treasured things or persons are taken away.
Consider this daily prayer as a new discipline (in similar ways as journaling, study or silence).
- Approach God with your hands closed. Begin to confess what treasures lie beneath the white-knuckled power grip. Acknowledge the ways that you cherish stuff, people, dreams or expectations.
- Let your hands relax. Let air flow through your fingers as a reminder that someOne else has a larger domain in this world and in your heart. Even now if something was torn away, it wouldn’t be a surprise. It would still hurt, but you would be alright. Ask God to take whatever he will. Ask for patience. Ask…and trust him to lead.
- Open your hands fully. This posture abandons your control and relinquishes whatever “rights” you thought you had. In this way, you are also prepared to receive. God’s is in charge of what’s next. Thank Him for graciously lead you to patience and healing.
If done regularly, this practice will help you listen to the Lord’s voice and trust his actions in your life. Your hands will most likely return to clenching…but you will become accustomed to the way he faithfully brings you to a place of rest.