For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning. ~Psalms 30:5
Joy and sorrow sleep in the same bed. ~ Czech Proverb
Joy and pain are like sunshine and rain~ Frankie Beverly and Maze
Now let us give thanks. As I lived it, this seemed like one of the most difficult weeks of my life. I wanted to cry, several times a day, every day. Here is what I have learned about trying times; it’s all relative. Lesson #2, it is never all bad. Keep reading, because the lesson continues. Whether November or July, we can always give thanks.
Monday morning, life got challenging. Take a seemingly insurmountable obstacle; difficult choices; a much compressed timeline. I felt overwhelmed and deeply disappointed. I prayed. I did not ask God to make it better, because I’ve stopped “shopping” when I pray, I rather asked that He would be true to His Word by never leaving me alone, and if possible, to please give me the courage to stand with grace, knowing it would get better. Suddenly, I was able to breathe again, and I didn’t cry. So, when the afternoon came with a plan formulated to assess our options against the morning’s assault I worshipped, thankful that the sky had not fallen after all. My joy would not last long, but at least I had it while I had it. You see, we can always give thanks for something.
Tuesday morning brought my joy. I felt like it might be okay. I prayed again, thankful that circumstances had not shaken my faith. I could breathe, until a call came Tuesday afternoon. Once again, we had an insurmountable obstacle, looming larger than the first; difficult choices; another impossible timeline. More than just overwhelmed, I felt tired and afraid. Despite my feelings, I prayed, knowing that God’s Goodness and Mercy would be sufficient to meet my needs. Somehow, I further knew that my fear was unnecessary, out of step with my faith. Prayer and a long run brought calm, and a clear sense that since I wasn’t in control, I should probably just let go. While I have said that many times in my life, this time something was different. I really did let go. Sometimes the very thing you need to be thankful for is your faith.
Wednesday morning came heavy, oppressive; like joy was coming in the morning but I was stuck in the night before. I know that You are with me, Lord, but right now I’m walking in a dim cloud. I follow my daily routine, dispatching the husband, ferrying the children, walking the dog. I tell myself, “hard times don't build character; they reveal it” wondering what I’ll look like when this is over. I pray, pleading for enough mercy to get me through this day, knowing where there is life there is hope. And, despite all my stress, I am feeling alright. Not only does Wednesday afternoon bring joy, sunshine, and deliverance, it is more that I could have bargained, negotiated, or maneuvered for on my own. Now, I am bursting with the need to give thanks. I am thankful that through it all I was able to pray, and to feel that there was One who heard my prayers, accepted my tears, and never let me believe I was alone. This does not mean that there weren’t two MORE crises to face before sundown, but when you have seen a rainbow during the storm, you simply refuse to believe it will not come again. There was so much jubilation by nightfall that while I’d promised to give myself the “good cry” I’d been postponing during all the drama, I had no tears. I was full of joy. I was full of thanks. I was deeply moved and deeply filled.
So now, I prepare for the Thanksgiving extravaganza. A girl with deeply Southern roots, I will do everything the hard way: Cornbread from scratch for the dressing, a turkey to brine before roasting, cranberries in a bag that will become the relish my husband loves. A table brimming with family, newly defined by my dear friend whose text this morning made me cry, and I quote,
“family is not just DNA & bloodlines but is made up of those who choose to love us and that is an indescribable feeling.”
And, with that definition, I celebrate the family I was born to, the family I married, and the family God has added to my life over the years. I am off to a PTA meeting, and then to the grocery, because all that I’ve planned will certainly not get done if I indulge this muse much longer. And so, even in my times of too much to do and not enough hands or help, I clearly live an abundant life. Further evidence that God is good.