I wake to the the sun streaming on my side of our bed. A new day.
My first thoughts? A prayer formed from words in Lamentations about hope in the midst of affliction.
Oh God, because of Your great love we are not consumed, for your compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness!
And then I roll over and face my husband, his eyes just opening. His first words?
“I didn’t tell you last night. Jack passed. Carol found him dead when she woke.”
Business associate. Pheasant hunting buddy. Went to South Dakota together last fall. Gone. And his wife Carol? No one sweeter. We’ve spent wonderful times together.
I feel jolted, broad-sided, trying to breathe as I absorb the impact of life and death’s gut-punch. Is it our age, where friends are dropping dead suddenly?
Our frailty strikes me.
I could be next. Today. Or my husband. Tomorrow, I could roll over and find him cold, unable to pull me in and hold me close, as always. I ache for Carol—for all the grieving.
I linger in Todd’s arms, thankful. I stroke his thinning silvered hair, knowing. One day we will part. We must. Death will take us. And we will grieve.
I lay here in this bed, praying for all the suffering. My melancholy bent could drop me into depression but for my fierce HOPE and JOY. I have JOY, even when I cry, because with Jesus life is never hopeless – never meaningless – never purposeless.
But often in the broken, a hidden soul-enemy lurks, trying to kill our joy, swallow it whole, send it spiraling into the abyss. Yesterday, the enemy advanced against me. So I went to war.
I went to war to protect JOY in the midst of sorrow.
I went to war, a determined woman, intent on capturing the glory flag of victory.
I went to war, shouting aloud my battle cry . . .
I don’t CARE if every surface of my home is a mess! I don’t CARE if the sink is full of dirty dishes! I don’t CARE that baskets of clothes are overflowing, waiting to be washed. I may not have tomorrow, but I have today. And my husband is packing up that new travel trailer and heading down our country road just 2 miles to camp for just one night because it’s a gorgeous spring day. And I’m going with him while I still have him! And we’re taking our 18 year-old son and his 18 year-old friend, even though they have school tomorrow. And we’re going to sit by a fire and throw a football and look at the moon! YEAH! That’s what we’re going to do! Because I’m not going to let YOU steal one BIT of JOY from me! And one more thing, while I’m at it . . .
I’m going GLORY hunting!
So, I grabbed my camera, my boots, my coat, a pair of shorts and an old T-shirt to sleep in. Then, out the door I went.
I want to soak in as much GLORY as this body, mind, and soul can absorb. I want to capture glimpses of glory all around me to share with the world—the rejoicing and the aching.
Tonight, I want to be with my living husband and my living kid almost grown, and my living dogs, and share a pear with one of my living best friends who drove over to sit by the fire for an hour. I want us to pull together close and smell the smoke when the night air chills. I want to watch the moon rise high while that whippoorwill across the way, thrills.
I want to watch the bats flutter overhead, eating mosquitos. I want to sleep in a trailer under covers next to my husband whom I love more than ever. I want to pray myself to sleep, thankful and hopeful that our great God of glory will help us hunt and keep hunting for JOY in the midst of crushing loss.
Because of Jesus, I don’t have to just want. And I don’t have to wait. I can capture glory. Now. Always. So can you.
We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
2 Corinthians 4:7-10