As I sat in the emergency room, waiting from my husband to return from receiving a slew of x-rays and scans, one thought ran through my mind: This was not how I thought our summer would go.
My husband, a guy who had a long history working in all facets of commercial and residential contracting, had tumbled over ten feet from a roof to the concrete driveway below. It wasn’t the first time he had fallen, but it was definitely the worst. Over the years, he had become accustomed to a fall or two, and usually just brushed himself off so he could get back to work. But this time, the fall had fractured a vertebrae and bruised up a hip and shoulder. He was in tremendous pain. But as I sat waiting, I knew that I knew that I knew that he’d be fine. The peace of a good and comforting Father, the one who had spared my husband’s life in a fall that could have been fatal, washed over me, providing grace to tackle the next phase: caring for my husband as he healed.
The month of sabbatical rest and vacation from work I had planned was not to be. While I was incredibly thankful that my husband was alive and well, the days that passed by brought on layer after layer of discontentment. The truth is that the discontentment had been there to begin with, long before the tumble off a roof. The arduous task of healing from the sudden battle with foster care was still in my heart, two years after our daughters had returned home. What I had assumed would be a speedy healing was taking far longer than I anticipated and I was weary. Just when I felt like I had conquered one wound, another one was found, gaping with pain and resentment and helplessness. I also had on my heart a fresh encounter with conflict. Conflict that I never saw coming, striking in a way that reeked of attack. All this fretful and uneasy circumstance, culminating in an exhausted heart that wanted nothing more than a good cry, a long nap and a fresh start.
I have no poker face. So when one of my dear friends reached out and asked if I was okay, I knew I couldn’t be anything less than forthright. I laid out for her all the ways I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. She responded, ‘Sounds like real life.’
This friend, a woman with one ear bent toward God and the other left open for the sounds of the women she was called to lead, had just given me a good old fashioned dose of life-ain’t-fair-sister. I dig her.
My sweet friend said the only logical thing that could be said when faced with a list of my struggles, some totally ordinary and some downright tragic. We all have a story fraught with challenge. No one gets a pass. Tragedy and heartache can seem as though it’s on a spectrum, from the uncomfortable to the horrific, but the pain we all feel is not. It’s all very real and very valid. What’s more, it always induces a similar response in humanity – a hard decision to either choose grace or choose bitterness. That ability to choose for ourselves, a free will, is a gift from our kind and loving God, who is always a gentleman.
It’s a hard reality we all face. How will I respond to the seasons of life given to me by a good Father? Will I turn away….or will I lean in? Will I seek other ways to fill my sadness…..or will I fix my eyes on God? Will my character hold steady, rooted in God….or will I fall victim to the ways of the world? It’s all a choice, dear friends.
So are joy and happiness and hope. When the God-anointed King of Israel, David, often found himself in heaps of trouble, he kept a locked gaze on God, praising Him for all the good things that can only come from the Giver. And he concluded that, troubles aside, it’s no wonder he had a glad heart, which led to rejoicing and then a body well rested in safety.
No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.
My body rests in safety.
-Psalm 16:9 (NLT)
Did you catch that quick math courtesy of King David? My fatigued heart and spirit find comfort is this super simple equation from God. Choosing to have a glad heart + rejoicing = body rested in safety. That’s the solution that I sought, a tried and tested fix to the quandaries of life.
Friends, the days we’re given are going to be filled with dirty diapers and money woes and flat tires and husbands that fall from roofs. They just are. Don’t fall for the lie of discontentment. The answer is to see the abundance more than we see the lack. Because the abundance is there, always. Our Father came that we may have not just any old life, but an abundant one. A fully alive life.
David is well known as a musician. I believe that in the midst of his weariness, this activity lifted his spirits, helping him to choose joy. Today, take a moment to listen to uplifting music. As your countenance soars, praise God with a glad heart.