taking the words of Jesus seriously

During the last recession—the one they called “great”—I lost my home to foreclosure. I also lost my savings  to survival, my credit to bankruptcy, a best friend to cancer, a loved one to alcoholism, and (almost) my marriage to the upending grief of it all.  

Having been raised in a progressive christian family, I knew that forgiveness was a key element in the healing  process. I even knew that I was allowed to be angry with God.  

And so, after all that loss, I set my face forward, determined to do a good job and walk the path that life had  mapped out for me. For two and half years, I worked the formulas of forgiveness: I wrote letters of  acceptance, prayed prayers of submission, and made every effort to love those who had let me down.  

Then one night, in the middle of my righteous toil, I had a startling dream in which God told me I was to go on a “Journey of Forgiveness.”

“Seriously, God?!” I asked upon waking. “A journey of forgiveness? What do you think I’ve been doing all this time? Who could I possibly have left to forgive?!” 

“Me.” God gently responded. “And yourself.”  

What my spiritual upbringing could never have prepared me for was the ferocious honesty that God would  require of me in this new and unknown level of recovery—this “anger” stage of grief. How God would dig my fury and my honest hurt out of me. How she would require me to confess my resentments. How she would sit lovingly through every season of my aching disappointment and never stop listening to my heart until it was fully poured out; fully healed.  

I didn’t know the intimate audacity that God and I would forever share after that.  Today, I wrote this “version” of Isaiah 55, for all of us who find ourselves angry at God now.  

READ: My Breast Cancer Revealed a Mothering God

Isaiah 55—a “version” for those in the third stage of Grief

Come to me all you who are angry

And you who have no tears left to spend  

Who’ve wrung out your eyes with crying  

Till they’re swollen salt-waters of grief.  

Come weep and rage.  

Come pitch a fit.  

Punch the floor and the wall.  

Come beat my chest and scream at me. 

Come to me all you who are exhausted with yourselves,

Worn out with bitterness and resentment  

Against me, against the Heavens, against the Earth, against others 

Against yourself. 

Come to me all you who feel the knife in your throat,  the tightening knot of your gut,  

Every time my name is mentioned. 

Come all you who wince in pain  

at words attached to my name.  

“God’s will  

God’s blessing  

God’s protection”  

and you who want to scream,  

“Where was it for me?!”  

Every time you see a glint of light you shut it out in fear:

Fear that I’m still Real – but unloving, uncaring, unseeing, untouched.  

Come to me all you who hate  

and can’t seem to stop.  

I still have Love for the taking. 

Why walk in circles,  

Stomping around in your minds,  

Searching for answers and reasons that never come?  

Come eat, come drink, come pour yourself out. 

I’ll listen  

and listen  

and listen  

To your stories and your tears.  

I’ll never grow tired of you,  

even though everyone else has.  

I’ll hear you till your soul can live!  

Come to me all you who are angry,  

Come give me your bitter waters  

Of pain. 


This piece is from Esther’s collection of stories, “A Journey of Forgiveness.” You can read more of her work on her personal blog.

About The Author


Esther Sparks is a singer, songwriter, visual artist and storyteller from the west of Scotland; she was raised in an intentional, spiritual community in the rolling hills near Loch Lomond. For eleven years, Esther and her family lived in New Orleans, where she worked with numerous musicians, wrote and recorded three albums and worked as a singer in the evenings, and a mom during the day. In 2009, during the fallout from the great recession, the Sparks family lost their income, and then their home. Subsequently, they lost their sanity, their sobriety and their faith. Esther’s sixth and most recent album: ‘Drowning, Rising & the Space In-Between’ chronicles her journey through that loss, recovery and rebirth, and is now available at all major online outlets. Esther lives in Colorado with her husband and three grown kids. She loves to make little sketches and films for her songs, and you can find these on her YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/@EstherSparks

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