“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” –Psalm 28:7 (NIV)
Where do you draw strength? If I’m being honest, many times I think strength comes from myself—if I’m just tough enough and brave enough, then I can do all things. The Lord loves to remind me that this is so far from truth. In fact the more I try to pull up my bootstraps and take on the world alone, the more the Lord humbles me. If the everyday struggles of raising kids doesn’t remind me to rely on His strength, all He has to do is cause me to pause and remember who I was when He saved me—a short-tempered nihilist, riddled with anxiety, living with the constant nagging thought, “there is no hope,” playing through my mind day and night, like my own personal theme song. Who saved that girl and pulled her out of the dark hole she couldn’t get out of on her own? Oh yeah…right. That wasn’t me. That was you, Jesus.
There is some grief I hold in my heart from those days. Not particularly for myself, but for anyone now who is like the “old me.” Life doesn’t suddenly become perfect when you start following Jesus, but, man, does hope make a difference.
Each piece in Issue Eight contains traces of sorrow—something grieved, lost, misunderstood, or a meditation of our own fallen nature. But we are not left there to wallow. There is hope in these pages. There are small moments of beauty and peace carefully woven into each troubling scene. You may suffer a little with each heartache presented here, but you may also subtly learn that no one suffers alone. Our God knows pain and sacrifice. He is a loving parent who laments with his confused and hurting children. And like a good parent, He knows how to give good gifts—lasting, wonderful gifts that the world cannot give (Mt 7:11, Lk 11:13). Hope is one of those gifts, and it is always waiting for us to grab onto when we need it. If we open our eyes and listen carefully, we can witness innumerable reminders of hope surrounding us like a galaxy of our own personal stars burning small, bright, and piercing the night—all coordinated by the One who loves us. Once you come to realize these truths, it’s hard not to “rejoice always” as Paul says (1 Thess 5:16). It’s hard not to love God and each other. I hope the work in this issue reminds you of this reality. Darkness is the warning, but never the victor.
It’s tempting to turn these editor-notes into gush-sessions about how blessed I am and how good God is. Though I typically try not to bore you with my personal feelings of gratitude, I may just have to do that this time:
Thank you to Katie Yee, Heart of Flesh’s volunteer and reader (and proofreader) for this issue. Her thoroughness, sound judgment, and discernment made this round of submissions breeze by, and I thank her for her willingness to commit herself to the task. She is a true blessing.
Thank you to my sweet husband, who talks me off the ledge every issue, gives me time to work, and reminds me to have faith.
Thank you to those who submitted and our contributors—poets, writers, artists, and photographers from all walks of life. Each submission period I am overwhelmed by the support and kindness of those who share their talents and gifts.
Thank you to Jesus Christ, my Savior and Redeemer. The only One able to give true hope. This issue is for His glory and for the good of His kingdom.
And thank you, for reading Issue Eight. Heart of Flesh is incredibly blessed by your interest, and so am I.
Artwork: Daniel in the Lion’s Den by Veronica McDonald, 2021. Oil pastel on paper.