Modernist Literature and the Cross

I’m currently taking American Literature: Realism through Modernism, and in it we have recently been discussing modernist poetry. Fragmentation within poems has been a common and thought-provoking topic as we discuss how breaking apart objects can reveal reality better, ignoring the romanticized symbolism that people have attached to objects for centuries, but last week I became frustrated with this style of poetry. The poems seemed abstract; breaking down objects into their parts to describe them in a fuller way seemed confusing and purposeless that day.

We began discussing how Christianity can be manifested in fragmentation, and a couple of my classmates had insightful comments about fragmentation revealing the reality of Christian life. They said it shows that things are not always perfect. They said the words and format of the modernist poems reflect how we do not always understand what is happening. In other words, fragmentation shows the broken reality of life.

This is valid, but it is not always enough. Where is the hope? In class that day, I voiced that I just wanted to proclaim the gospel in a poem, the full gospel. I couldn’t stand the purposeless poems any longer. Maybe part of why I wanted to look at the bigger picture was because I’m a sociology major. Overall, I believe the urge came because I wanted to make my faith in Jesus known to everyone.

I see the value of fragmentation, and I would actually like to try writing some similar poems myself to break out of the mold in which we commonly think. Yet I do not want to become so focused on individual objects that I ignore the bigger picture of hope and redemption that Jesus has made for us, thanks be to God.

Because of these thoughts and beliefs, I scribbled the following poem in my notes as class ended. While it does not explain in detail the good news of Jesus Christ giving up His Heavenly home to become human, feel pain, be compassionate, and ultimately die an unspeakably agonizing death to take the punishment we all deserve for ignoring, disobeying, and rebelling against God–while the poem does notĀ  go into details of Jesus’s doing this out of God’s great love and His coming back to life and conquering death once and for all out of God’s sacred power, it gives a better glimpse than many other short poems I’ve read lately. It has more purpose than a poem describing the common but unnoticed beauty of a vase, and it’s the starting place of hope.

Here’s to my God, the Saviour of all on this earth who believe in Him, who is living in His people through His Spirit until His return!

 

A Cross:

Splintered wood,

Agony.

I wince.

Hands, gaping

Chest, heaving–

A cross

That is everything;

that is all.

A Story of Healing

Dear readers, I need to tell you a story of God’s healing. It is not a new story, for it happened last semester, but I want to share it with you so that God can be glorified by more people than just my immediate friends who knew about it when it occurred.

In the fall, my wrist began to hurt badly. When the pain began, my roommate prayed over me. As soon as she was done, she asked if it was better. It was not. It swelled and throbbed.

After a few days, I went to the nurse at Student Health Services because the pain was growing worse. While it wasn’t sharp pain, it was the kind that never left. I couldn’t write for long or play piano, and the pain nearly brought me to tears.

The nurse gave me a wrist wrap and told me to ice the area and take anti-inflammatory pain relievers. She said it was tendonitis and had probably ensued from having so much typing to do and not placing my wrists on the laptop keyboard ergonomically. She recommended buying a pad upon which to rest my wrists as I worked on my computer.

I wrapped my wrist, iced it on and off for days, borrowed a friend’s brace, and leaned my wrists on some rolled up cloth when I typed. Despite these things, I still had to take many breaks while I did my homework, and while the brace was helpful, the pain remained.

About a week after my wrist pain began, I had to help lead worship for a Bible study and for bro-sis worship afterwards. I was supposed to play guitar and sing that Wednesday night, but I was still quite injured and could not play guitar. After praying that someone would be able to replace my guitar position, I bumped into a girl from my sister floor who knew someone who could help at bro-sis worship. Thanks be to our God who hears our prayers!

Another friend covered my guitar part for the first half of Bible study, and we made do with just the piano when she had to leave. When we arrived at a song we hadn’t practiced together, I took over on piano, despite my injured wrist. It still hurt. My friend Wes resumed his place at the piano afterwards, and I went back to leading the vocals.

While I was singing, God told me to lift up my hand. I obeyed, and suspecting something miraculous had just happened, I tested it out, moving my wrist around and using it to do normal things that had hurt me mere minutes before. God had indeed healed my wrist!

I was astounded and gratefulĀ  to God for this, but I couldn’t figure out why He had healed me.

I wrestle with the thought of healing, for I know that God can and does heal, but I also think that some people want to be healed for every little thing and may end up missing Jesus in the healing. Furthermore, I know that God is sometimes glorified more when people are not healed than if He had physically healed them. An example of this is David McClain, a man who has lived with ALS longer than he “should” have and who has joyously spread the Gospel through his suffering. I do not believe God will always heal those who pray, nor should he. Our eyes must be joyously focused on Jesus regardless of physical pain or healing.

I question what the purpose of healing is. Multiple people in the Bible were healed by faith, and Jesus forgave their sins before announcing their healing. Others followed Jesus after He healed them. This makes it seems as if He heals so that people will come to Him. However, Jesus also had compassion on the crowds and healed thousands of sick people, and they did not all believe Him to be the Messiah. So what was the purpose?

Perhaps He healed these people out of pure love in the face of human sin and rebellion. This foreshadows the Gospel story: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ [Jesus] died for us” (Romans 5:8). Isn’t it beautiful? God makes His glory known in ways that we cannot understand, yet I love catching glimpses of it.

Another Scripture passage dealing with healing is found in the book of James. It can be found towards the end in the section devoted to prayer. This passage has furthered my curiosity about the purpose of healing. Please note that I’m purposely leaving out the reference so that you might read the entirety of the short book and discover its full message.

I know that God heals. His healing me filled me with awe and wonder and praise for Him.

After pondering why God healed me, I came to the conclusion that God healed me just to show that He could. I’ll repeat that: The only reason I could ascertain about my healing was that God healed me just to show that He could. Saying this brings me joy: I serve a God who heals! He is all-mighty, He does care for His people immensely, and He is always wonderful and worthy of our praise.

I serve the God who heals.