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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write an INSPIRATIONAL or DEVOTIONAL piece (04/26/07)

TITLE: After the Unspeakable Minute
By Jan Ackerson


In one unspeakable minute…

…The doctor and nurse exchange silent glances, and a new mother’s heart squeezes out an anguished no

…The teenager looks up from her algebra paper to the shadow in the classroom doorway, and a bullet divides her life into before and after

…The squeal of tires and the shattering of glass interrupt the calm of a suburban neighborhood, and a bicycle’s wheel spins crazily beside its broken rider…

For innumerable moments of countless unbearable days…

…heaven is flooded with cries of the heart: Why? Why? Why?

Perhaps the most painful thing—aside from the shock of the doctor’s verdict, the policeman’s guarded eyes—is the cold comfort of well-meaning Christians.

“God has given you this child because you are so special in His eyes.”
--All I ever wanted to be was ordinary.

“You’re such an inspiration. You’re so brave. You’re so lucky the injury wasn’t worse.”
--I never asked to inspire anybody. And I don’t feel brave, or lucky.

“You’ll be able to counsel grieving people better, because of your loss. It will help you to do your job better.”
--If I could have my child back, I’d flip burgers for the rest of my life.

After my own unspeakable minute, my whys flew heavenward for months. I never got the answer I sought, but here are some truths that I have come to know:

God is holy, and His ways are holy. His motives, therefore, are often unknowable.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD.
"As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV

Would I have it any other way? How small my God would be, if His every act could be placed in a pretty box and tied up with a tidy ribbon! How little faith would then be required of me!

* * *

In response to my why, He answered not because but rather my daughter, I love you. Trust Me.

Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to the children of men.

Lamentations 3:32-33 NIV

God wept when I wept.
* * *

My circumstances do not change God’s love for me, so they need not dictate the condition of my spirit.

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV

When I was finally willing to loosen my grasp on why—that prickly cactus—only then was I able to take hold of what God’s hand extended to me: Joy, a shining gem.

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This article has been read 2652 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Amy Michelle Wiley 05/03/07
Helen Paynter05/03/07
"Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs" (Jonah 2:8)
Your last paragraph reminded me of this verse, and of how the idols can even take the shape of our unanswered questions.
Thank you.
Jennifer Wetter05/03/07
How often we choose to question God and how often we refuse the answers he offers. Pain is for but a moment, hope is a for but an eternity.
TJ Nickel05/03/07
Best Challenge Entry I've read in 2007. Crushing reminder of man's status as a sojourner.
Joanne Sher 05/04/07
Thank you. I have found this to be SO true - and you expressed it wonderfully - more eloquently than I ever could. Wonderful.
Jacquelyn Horne05/04/07
Beautifully said. An older woman of God once told me, "I've come to the conclusion that I just don't understand about life."

That kinda' sums it up for me. I have to leave it in the hands of the Master.

Encouraging article.
Mo 05/04/07
This is powerful.
Sheri Gordon05/04/07
Wow. This spoke directly to my heart -- then pierced into it's very core.

My 'whys' flew nonstop after my parents were killed in a car accident. The worst part were the "well meaning Christians." I despised the Christian platitudes.

But, at some point, the two verses that finally got through to me were the verses you've quoted here: Isaiah and Habakuk. And hearing ... "trust me".

I feel like this was written directly to me. And it was written so beautifully. Really nice piece. Thank you.
Lynda Schultz 05/05/07
Truely inspirational.
Elizabeth Baize05/06/07
My favorite line was,"Would I have it any other way? How small my God would be, if His every act could be placed in a pretty box and tied up with a tidy ribbon! How little faith would then be required of me!" How true this is. Thank you for taking up the difficult question of "why" and answering it so Biblically.
valerie chambers05/07/07
Amazing how a moment can change our lives forever.I like how your work showed that what was more important than why. Excellent piece and very inspiring.
Lisa Holloway05/07/07
Simple, true, very real, and full of faith that has struggled through hard questions. Thank you for sharing.
Betty Castleberry05/07/07
Great message. I have been guilty of asking why many times.
This piece will surley touch most of us.
Ann Grover05/07/07
Lynn Mosher05/07/07
Awesome. My heart just explodes with sympathy, desiring to reach out with compassion to ease your pain. May you be blessed in your recovery.
Brad Paulson05/07/07
Poetry for the heart... I think I'll read it again
Sharlyn Guthrie05/07/07
So true and so humbly and passionately communicated.
Teri Wilson05/07/07
Beautiful analogies at the beginning. I loved the prickly cactus metaphor. Masterful, as always!
Myrna Noyes05/08/07
Wow. You very ably tackled one of the most difficult questions we humans ever ask of God--WHY?? It's a question He doesn't often answer directly, and you brought this out in a way that still encourages us and gives us hope. Well done!
Jan Ross05/08/07
Unspeakable is my response to this devotional ... you captured the essence of humanity's ponderings throughout the ages. Very well done! Excellent!
Cheri Hardaway 05/08/07
"Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs" (Jonah 2:8) I love this verse that Helen used in her comment. So often, we feel we have the right to live a pain-free life because we are God's children, and we cling to that "idol" and become angry with God when things don't go as we expect.

That's not the promise He gives us; but rather He promises that He will walk through our sorrows with us, teaching us what true grace is all about. You have captured this whole concept flawlessly.

One of my close friends lost her 12-year-old son last September, and your piece sums up their experience. We all have our why's in life. This piece is truly inspirational in its truth and encouragement. Thank you. Cheri
Patty Wysong05/08/07
What does one say when their heart's been touched and tears are flowing? Tears of remembering mingled with tears of joy.
wow. Thank you.
Mariane Holbrook 05/08/07
This is a keeper! It reaches deep within the hidden chambers of my heart and begs me to read it again. Great job.
Benjamin Graber05/09/07
Well, you've already got a load of comments on this article - but I still wanted to let you know that I think this is wonderful. Very inspirational, it reaches straight to the heart.
Pat Guy 05/09/07
For some, it can take a lifetime. I pray God will use this through His Merciful Grace for others.

It begs to be read again ... and again.
Sara Harricharan 05/09/07
Your opening is very strong. I like it, especially the 'minute' between in all the scenarios. My fave sentence was "God wept when I wept." Very powerful. Thanks for sharing! ^_^
Donna Powers 05/09/07
This is amazingly profound, and very lovely. What a wonderful piece. Thanks so much for sharing it.
Rita Garcia05/09/07
WOW! You have touched my heart and soul! My sister-in-law is in the last stages of her battle with cancer, I really needeed to read this right now. God Bless you for sharing this beautiful devotional!
Suzanne R05/10/07
Absolutely beautiful......

And congratulations on your very much deserved success with this piece in the challenge. May it be used to comfort many others too.
Sara Harricharan 05/10/07
Shari Armstrong 05/10/07
Wonderful -and I loved this "In response to my why, He answered not because but rather my daughter, I love you. Trust Me."
Leigh MacKelvey05/10/07
Ah, Jan ... another beautiful piece of writing and I know it was from your heart and your own experience. You are serving God faithfully wih your message! Congratualtions for a number 1 placing!
Val Clark05/10/07
Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing this experience so eloquently. yeggy
Lisa Graham05/11/07
Beautifully written and so heart-felt, with stirring words that causes the reader to think. The choice in scriptures was perfect. Very well done!
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/12/07
This ministered to me very specially in a very needy moment. Thank you. Verna
Joy Faire Stewart05/12/07
I CANNOT believe a judge would leave this type of comment!!
Venice Kichura05/12/07
This inspired & encouraged me! Masterfully written & a much-deserved win!
Rachel Malcolm 01/05/14
Powerful imagery...beautiful truth!
Patsy Hallum01/07/14
It's still true today and will always be true. Thank you for the article on devotionals. I aspire to be as great a writer as you!
Sheldon Bass 01/09/14
Thank you for the lesson Jan.
Dee Kyalo10/09/14
Great devotional!
CK Pressley06/18/15
WOW! This devotional captured my attention and kept it to the end...actually it lingers...
Thank you