A Hell of Mercy

Sometimes, it’s extremely difficult to see what God is doing through our suffering and pain. This poem is dedicated to making that a little clearer…



Augustine said his heart, like a haunted mansion,

From which he found no rest; search for satisfaction.

No escape could he find, tormented distractions,

Ghosts of his tortured past, echoes of abstraction.


Looking for the meaning that would make my heart whole,

What was I still missing in deep parts of my soul?

Existential something; that deep gnawing hunger,

Soul’s pangs of misery, haunted and the haunter!!!


But why wouldn’t the things I was seeking fill me?

They all touched something deep, then away they would flee!

Rich relationships now, then slowly dissipate,

What happens to feelings? Do they evaporate?


Family that I love, money to pay the bills,

Serving our fellow man, and fun vacation thrills,

Rich relationship now, then gone like morning mist,

Why am I so fickle? What is it I still miss?


My basic needs? All met. I never miss a meal,

What is it I’m missing? What is this empty feel?

Cancer-free and healthy, and fit as a fiddle,

Then who can answer me, this plot’s puzzling riddle?


Trying to fill a heart with things “outside” of me.

Status? Money? People? Success? Being carefree?

Is the soul much bigger than all those things, combined?

A man can’t fill himself!! This is by God’s design!!!


The first obstacle found: “Outside” can’t fill “Inside!”

God’s love must be central; in Him I must reside.

A second obstacle raises its ugly head.

“I must figure this out; my pride, not God, instead.”


The filling of my soul? It must be done by me!

And when I feel so full, rapturous joy and glee!

It’s the, “look what I did; I did it all my way!”

(Not enough to be filled; I must be filled my way!)


Now a third obstacle raises its ugly head.

Certain I could fix me, “I don’t need God instead.

I’ll try harder, read more, I’ll be the solution!”

(But this burst of vain pride is just an illusion).


“Just watch me conquer this! Just watch me conquer that!

Don’t tell me what to do! I won’t fall on the mat!

In my time, in my way, with my strength, with my brain,

Through troubles I’ll sustain, this, my lifelong refrain!”


Certain I could fix me, my heart’s broken pieces,

A repairman am I? A new heart releases?

My ego’s the culprit, it sets a trap for me.

Discouragement, shame, guilt, all will hound and haunt me!


Pride drives these obstacles, quite formidable foes,

The “outside-in” fixes? Hope at first, then the woes.

The “Look what I did” fix? Misguided solution.

“But I know what to do” is pride’s great delusion.


Just what does it take to convince me otherwise?

The dark night of the soul? Misery, I surmise.

When nothing seems to work, my efforts down in flame?

When God seems far away, when life seems like a game?


When pride sees the mirror, an unfixable soul.

From pre-dawn through the night I need to be made whole.

See all my grand attempts to fill my heart and soul,

Try to fill Grand Canyon, like stones into that hole.


“I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.

For My sake I’m purging your pride’s proud addiction.

Only when My glory becomes your core glory

Will something different fill your heart-soul’s quarry.”


Now the dark night is done; ‘twas mercy now I see!!!

Shuddering tastes of hell, pride’s vile trajectory!!

My soul was made for God, no other way around,

Heart’s simple surrender, a child, in Him I’m found!


Emptiness, loneliness, not time to “sing the blues.”

Rather, doorways to God! My heart softens, renews.

My soul’s hunger and thirst, they, my soul’s deepest friends,

Will lead me to Papa, as He ever intends.



(Isaiah 48:10-11, book of Job)