There are some days when I think, “You know, this day would have been better had I simply stayed in bed.” Such was my thought early this evening. Let me disavow you of the notion that simply because this blog is called Daily Thankful that it means that I’m happy all of the time. Like you, I have my struggles and burdens, and some days are harder than others. Today was such a day.
The day started out ordinarily enough. In retrospect, I can see that the Lord gave me a bit of warning with the Bible verses that I reviewed this morning (several passages in Psalm 73 stand out to me), because an hour later, I thought to myself, “Boy, am I glad that I read Psalm 73 today.”
I received some disappointing news this morning. Nothing life-changing or earth-shattering, but disappointing nonetheless. I think, because I was busy doing something else and wasn’t actively contemplating the matter, that the news caught me by surprise more than it might have done otherwise. I have learned to be leery of the unexpected, unscheduled phone call, but since I was in a decent mood, I decided to take the call anyway.
Here’s the thing about disappointment: It has a way of highlighting the expectations that we’ve placed on a particular outcome to a situation, even if we have not consciously done so. In our minds, hearts, and prayers, we expect that things will turn out differently, and when things do not go as planned, we are devastated all the more.
I had my moment – a few tears were shed, but in hindsight, I now recognize that those tears marked a sense of finality and closure on a situation that had been lingering in the back of my mind for some time. I gave myself a moment to process what I had heard, and then resumed what I was doing before the call came.
Grief is a powerful emotion – no matter how (seemingly) small the loss. Whether or not you lose a loved one, a job, some money, a relationship, or simply some peace of mind (as I had done for a portion of today), the process is much the same. There is a sense of emotional disquiet and then eventually one moves to the place of acceptance. However, this process can vary in length and quality, depending on the person and/or circumstance.
When you’ve carried something for a long time, it becomes part of you. And then, suddenly, when the situaiton is resolved (especially in a way that is different than your expectations), there can be a profound sense of loss – even when the finality of the situation is ultimately for your benefit.
This is how it was with me. Upon further reflection, I recognized that what happened was the most loving and gracious thing that the Lord could have permitted in my life. After many seasons of holding onto this painful thorn, He finally prized it out of my hands and allowed me to be free of it. However, I had been so accustomed to holding onto it that I was utterly bewildered at first when I realized that the thorn was gone.
It occurred to me that this image is a metaphor for the Christian journey overall. Here we are, holding onto the things that wound us, and the Lord gently, yet lovingly, orchestrates the events in our lives so that the thorn can be removed. In some cases, He allows us to hand it over; in other instances, He intervenes more dramatically and removes it for us, because He recognizes the long-term havoc that deeply-embedded thorns can wreak in our lives.
That’s why I was so far grateful for Psalm 73 – a powerful passage of Scripture if ever there was one. For a few moments, my heart failed, and so did my flesh; thankfully, though, my source of strength does not come from me, and there is another Source upon Whom I can rely when things get shaky.
Things got shaky today. And that’s okay.
And now – more than twelve hours after I first got the news – I’m okay. Not great, not fantastic, but okay. God is in the process recharging my heart right now, and I anticipate being back up to (nearly) 100%, Lord willing, quite soon. After all, when we hold onto thorn, the sharp edges puncture the skin, and it takes time for the wounds to heal. Thankfully, though, thorns create surface wounds only, and they usually heal quickly.
Spritually speaking, what happened today was a surface wound that will heal in short order – in fact, the restoration process has already begun. Why? Well, mostly because I recognize that my strength does not come from within myself. I am not willing myself to be better or do better, because willpower is not the answer. I simply had to step back from my situation and say, “Lord, You allowed this to happen, and I believe that You are sovereign over all things. Therefore, You have some purpose in this. I’m going to choose to trust You and Your good purposes, rather than what I’m feeling right now.” And I’ve had to repeat this to myself several times today.
Things have gotten better. I immersed myself in a project earlier this evening that required my complete focus, and I was able to make a lot of progress – that was very satisfying. I also spent some time with my mother (and accompanied her to a meeting at her church, so that she would not have to drive there by herself; in doing so, I enjoyed a resetting of my perspective – a much-needed reality check of sorts.
There is still good in the world, and if I remember that the Lord is my strength and portion – rather than me – then I’m going to be just fine.
And I am. Just fine. Not great, not fantastic, but just fine. That’s a reason to be grateful, no?
Dear Lord, what a whirlwind today has been! Thank You for bringing me through it (relatively) unscathed, and for the encouragement that I received from Your Word.
I fully release the aforementioned situation to You now. It is in the past. Thank You for removing the thorn, and I praise You in advance for the healing that You are already orchestrating in my life.
Finally, thank You for resetting my perspective this evening, so that I can focus my time on that which truly matters, rather than the things that only seem to be important. The difference is subtle, but significant.
In Your name I pray, Amen.