Severe Mercy, Sovereign Hope

Colleen Swindoll Thompson

“My name is Colleen, and I am a Swindoll.” I admit that in the measured tones of a 12-step introductory cadence. The name “Swindoll” has been a source of many assumptions over the years. And others’ assumptions are often untrue. These situations are common to us all. An even greater challenge is setting aside such theories in order to personally and authentically relate to others. My great hope for this blog is together we will set aside ideas or beliefs about one another and find true healing through turbulent times.

I was raised hearing my father say, “Thoughts work themselves out through the lips and through the fingertips.” I have found that to be true over and over again. When I was faced with situations I never imagined, writing and connecting with a few wise counselors provided sustaining hope. You see, there are days when I struggle a lot. I feel pressured, stressed, irritated, angry, and I want to control what appears to be out of my control. Other days I feel elated, excited, and delighted to greet the day with confidence and joy. One of the greatest skills in life is learning to accept life on its own terms––facing the mental and emotional issues with honesty, awareness, and grace. My personal confidence in doing this rests in my sovereign Lord.

My guess is that you may be in one of the dark places I mentioned. Thoughts like, I never expected this! What on earth do I do now? How come? and Why . . . ? tumble through my mind like loose bouncing balls on a school playground. My experience with these things led to a completely unexpected spiritual journey. I doubted my faith. I felt God was an enemy. I felt isolated and lost for a period of time. Perhaps you are there today. Though I can’t imagine your pain, I understand the struggle.

If I could offer something for you to ponder, it would be this concept: such seasons are the severe mercies of God. A Severe Mercy is the story of one man’s testimony about this truth. Like mine and perhaps yours, his life was full, his dreams were many, and his relationships were fulfilling. And, like mine and perhaps like yours, a great loss bombarded his life, and everything around him seemed to fall apart for a while. He was devastated. None of it made sense––especially because he was a devout believer in Christ. In his later reflections, he came to learn that his loss was one of God’s severest mercies, for it removed the item which occupied the place in his heart Christ was meant to fill. It’s often said that a restless heart is only at peace when it’s filled with the presence of God alone. Getting there can be heartbreaking.

So, this blog is offered to you as a place to begin to ponder the reflections of someone who has had a broken heart and also found rest.