I remember back in 2008 I had been dealing with asthma and respiratory issues for two months, and although I’d been calmer and more trusting of God than ever, the stress on my mind and body had taken a toll. Steve had lost probably 30 pounds in a six-month period and was looking haggard.
In a state of transition he’d been staying between two of our sons’ homes, and even though they loved having him he tried to be “invisible” to keep from burdening them in any way. It was just his way to leave few footprints.
The cumulative effect was that we were both worn down. The weariness on his face as he kissed me goodbye on that October morning left me softly weeping after the door closed behind him.
I love him so much. He works hard, and yet he chastises himself because he can’t take all the stress off our family. He gives his all constantly, and I assure and reassure him that he is doing everything he can. Still, he is far too hard on himself and it makes me feel a sadness I can’t put into words.
Which brings me back to some thinking I did this morning when my beautiful little granddarling decided she didn’t much care for the whole sleep thing.
I opened my Bible in the darkness, then switched on my little reading light, nearly blinding myself in the process and grumbling about it being way too bright for such a tiny device. I blinked a few times, then made a concentrated effort to focus.
I have a habit of whispering a little prayer of guidance, then opening my Bible and allowing myself to “land” on something specific God wants me to read. This morning that little practice landed me in Ecclesiastes. Of all places, I thought, why Ecclesiastes? Wasn’t I depressed enough? I chided myself for internally complaining about where God had sent me and dutifully set to reading.
Surprisingly, amongst the various impartations of “This is meaningless! Nothing but smoke!” I did find a few nuggets which I assume are the reason God sent me to such a downer of a passage. What stuck with me was that I need to be looking for the good among the trouble and making sure I am choosing wisdom and making the most and best out of this life.
Even now as I sit here sleepily contemplating gleaning the positive out of such negative circumstances, I see good lessons to be learned from the spot beneath my index finger this morning. I’m reminded of a story a friend told me recently. It was actually a joke, but I find the lesson pretty sobering once the laughter dies down.
As the story goes, woman is sitting on the beach watching her young son playing in the sand at the water’s edge. Suddenly a huge wave comes and sweeps her little son out to sea. The woman jumps up, looks heavenward, and yells, “God, you have to save my son!” Almost immediately another wave comes and deposits the boy back on the beach unharmed. The woman raises her hands to the sky and yells, “Um…he had a hat!”
My friend shared with me that she now uses that closing phrase to remind herself to never forget the blessings she’s been given—whatever her circumstances.
I’ve been giving this a lot of thought, and my prayer today is that even when our cars all sit dead in the driveway, even when it seems like this entire year has been one stressful event after another, even when I have no idea how we will make ends meet, even when my heart is so sad all I can do is weep, I will always remember all the amazing things God has done for me.
In the grand scheme of things, life may be nothing but smoke, but my hope is that I can somehow stand as a light in the middle of the murkiness. Maybe even one people think is a little too bright for such a small thing. Maybe one that makes people blink a little before they can see clearly.
Sometimes we need to be blinded so we can see.
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