I’ve heard a lot of sad stories lately, stories of loss, betrayal, disappointment, threat, jealousy, hatred, hopelessness….
It’s so easy for someone like me (a person who seems to attract I’ve-never-told-anyone-this-before confidences) to start to take on those feelings as if they were my own.
Joy, real joy, is not dependent on circumstances -mine or the many other situations I hear and read about. Joy doesn’t need to wait until that illusive when-this-is-over moment to well up inside the heart where Holy Spirit lives.
Hope, true hope, glows in the dark, and grows stronger with perseverance. True hope does not disappoint because it is based on something greater than relief of everything from annoyances to agony.
As I walked on the edge of the fog by the lake just after dawn this morning the song “It is Well With My Soul” was going through my head. I wondered why. Some parts of the woods were hidden in the mist, and others caught the sun. I was reminded that sometimes we can see the light and sometimes we walk by faith, but growth takes place no matter what the circumstance.
My daughter and son-in-love invited me to help them write their story. God did a miracle after our daughter’s much-loved husband had a 0% chance of survival from flesh-eating disease and was on life support. We have learned so much in the process about the importance of thanksgiving, of unity, of repentance, of perseverance, and of love. The book is now in the hands of the publisher (which feels somewhat like sending your child -or in my case, grandchild- off to college). More than anything all the writers involved, including a physician, a pastor, and many of the people who followed the story online, want to give all the praise and thanks to God.
But at one point or another, all of us involved have felt the burden of the pain of those whose stories did not end with miracles. Each of us have questioned whether or not sharing our joy will increase another person’s sorrow and wondered if we should talk about it so publicly. We have felt bad about feeling good.
There is a young couple who helped us. They said goodbye to their precious little girl in an ICU just like the one where we spent many days and nights. Their sorrow was still fresh, because such sorrow lasts a very long time. They did not have to sit in the hospital waiting room day and night praying for their friend, but they did, because in spite of their own profound disappointment, they believe that no matter what, God is good. They refused to let the darkness win and rob them of hope and joy and pushed through their pain to find the God of all comfort. They dared to trust. They are gracious enough to also tell their story in the book.
There are plenty of sad stories in the world. I could tell you a few myself. But joyful stories of hope also need to be told, because like the trees in the forest, real joy, and true hope continue to grow, whether in the sun or in the fog. No matter what, God is good, and it is well with my soul.
We enter Your gates with thanksgiving in our hearts and into Your courts with praise, Lord -no matter what.
Thank you, Abba.