The Uses of Sorrow

(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

– Mary Oliver, “The Uses of Sorrow”

This is one of my favorite poems. It’s been an old friend the past decade plus. It comes from Mary Oliver’s 2007 collection, Thirst: Poems. I thought of these words as I paced weepily around our house just past midnight last night. My muscles spasms and pain are getting worse. Not better. There was one position I could sleep in comfortably without pain for at least an hour or more at a time the past week, and last night, that position started spasming. Now, I have no way to rest.

I think I understand how Jonah must’ve felt when God took away his shade tree. It’s a story from the Bible (you can read here) that throughout my life has piqued my curiosity. As an INFJ on the Meyer’s Briggs Personality Test, this story has always been a hard one for me. I resonate with Jonah’s frustration, in so many ways. I hear myself pressing God for answers.

God, why did you take away Jonah’s shade tree?

God, why did you take away my one comfortable sleeping position?

God, why am I facing this debilitating pain each night, and when will you heal me?

I don’t have the answers. I’m trying my best to release the answers I so long for, to God. Like, what do you want me to learn from Jonah’s story, Lord? What do you want me to learn from this season of so much pain?!

God, may I rest in your unshakeable peace, power and ability to heal. Thank you for helping me to wrestle through this unknown. Perhaps this too is a gift?

4 thoughts on “The Uses of Sorrow”

  1. So sorry for all your pain. I have been there when the only place I could sleep was on the floor. But it will pass when you are in the middle of the pain it seems like forever

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Found myself on a rabbit trail and came across your blog post. I’m dealing, and been dealing with recent pain, back pain (almost a year ) and then a horrible viral infection. I guess I’m saying- I can relate.
    I’m so sorry your going through this pain.!
    Jesus, I pray a grace over my sister. I ask that the blood of Jesus would wash away her pain.
    In Jesus Name, Amen

    Liked by 1 person

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