I’ve been back in my room this morning, hanging laundry, making the bed and all that, while listening to some worship music I uploaded on my new mp3 player that my husband gave to me for Christmas. Before long, a thought came to the forefront of my mind, one which has been brewing in my heart now for a couple of days. Once in awhile, something happens that just rearranges how you look at everything around you. It might be a tragedy. I might be something obvious. It might just sneak up on you.
I had a conversation with a friend. I was ‘helping’ her out with something, which required nothing of me really, other than to open my door. Somewhere near the end of the conversation though, a nudging made me ask a question, the answer to which stunned me. It is that one sentence, that has lingered, insistently. It was the one sentence shocked me into a new reality. But this morning, this new ‘reality’ has bothered me to a ‘peaking’ point.
We’ve both been aware through the years since we met of struggles each household have gone through. We’ve held each other up in prayer. We’ve dumped on each other when things were too tough to hang on to anymore, and helped as we could.Today, I feel a bit like a heel for ever even mentioning financial struggles. I was beyond shocked when I found out just how little their two income household brought in last year, and how little he’s paid. I was mortified when I compared it to ours. It’s like I just got blasted with a different reality.
At first, there’s just been this gratitude, seeing just how far we’ve come, though in the bigger picture, it’s not like our numbers are all that large. But like anyone who’s ever been on a mission trip knows, especially to a third world country, it doesn’t seem to matter how much or how little you have, you feel like you live a king’s life in comparison. Today, I just have a greater appreciation for where we’re at, especially after just getting all the bills we were behind on caught up. Now… to work on getting out of debt. I thought it was just grand to be able to breathe again.
But this morning, all I wanted to do was cry. That’s not always a bad thing. We’re to rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. We’re to intercede for others, to recognize and feel their struggles and send heartfelt intercession to the heavens; to stand in the gap. I’ve been here before for this family, yet somehow today seemed different.
I’ve watched this family for years, struggling with one thing after the next. Not just the finances, but life itself it seems. Illnesses galore – some life threatening, all needing special care. They’ve suffered through job loss, and the nearly constant concern of losing their home. Until the other day, I just didn’t comprehend the reality of that possibility. I honestly can’t even take the time to list everything this family has gone through, on a daily basis. But I can tell you this is a family under God’s wing; it’s the only reason they’ve been coming through. I can guarantee you, another family would be uterally crushed under the same load.
I have great respect for this woman of God. It’s why I’m so grieved today. It’s just so unfair. Yet I know, in the same breath, that the rewards the Lord has to bestow on them have got to be so ridiculously far beyond my imagination. This one who constantly sows into others, whether its a plate of cookies or cake, an ear or a shoulder to cry on, some encouragement, watching or tutoring a neighbor’s child – she is a giver; it’s just who she is. And even though the pressure she’s been under, and always increasingly so, I see her stronger, ever more mature. She’s not perfect, but she is going to come through it all. And she’s the first to state she’s always going to God for her answers and her help.
There’s a song – “Above All Things” – funny, that I was thinking about a line from this song, and realized it had just started playing in my ear. At the end of the chorus, there’s a line “like a rose, trampled on the ground…”. It’s this line that I was reminded of in all of this today. When we’re crushed, like the petals of a rose, what is the fragrance that we’re releasing? Are we releasing the fragrance of Christ? or the stench of something else. This friend, I can tell you, with very rare exception, is releasing His fragrance, whether she knows it or not.
As for me, it is His kindness that brings us to repentance. As ‘Shout to the Lord’ was playing and I was singing along, I got as far as the line, ‘all of my days, I want to praise, the wonders of your mighty love.” Suddenly I am overwhelmed by the goodness of God in my life. “My Comfort, my Shelter, Tower of Refuge and Strength, with every breath, all that I am, never cease to worship You…” By this point, I’m worshiping again in tears, from a place of both repentance and gratitude. By this time, I had already had an action written down and was thinking about the next steps.
I pray that when she reads this, and oh, there is a really good chance that she may, that she will find a bit of encouragement and a bit more strength to carry one. I pray she knows she is loved and is not all alone in the fight. And I pray that I can stay in this perspective of not taking for granted all that I have, and recognizing I’m rich, no matter how much or how little I have. For in Him, I am lacking nothing…