“Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Ps. 30:5)
“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 16:24)
“Sounds Like Life to Me” is a country song by Darryl Worley, in which he tries to offer a friend perspective:
Sounds like life to me…plain old destiny
Yeah the only thing for certain is uncertainty
You gotta hold on tight just enjoy the ride
Get used to all this unpredictability
Sounds like life … to me.
It’s a hit to be sure, and no wonder, because songs that tell the truth tend to find their way into our hearts. Worley of course is by no means the first to sing about this particular truth. Frank Sinatra’s song, That’s Life captures the same sort of roller-coaster experience:
I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate,
A poet, a pawn and a king.
I’ve been up and down and over and out
And I know one thing:
Each time I find myself, flat on my face,
I pick myself up and get back in the race…that’s Life.
So it should come as no surprise that the scriptures, too, promise that life will be filled with surprises and change. Consider the unexpected events that fill the lives of people in the bible: Mary, a virgin finds out she’s pregnant, with God’s own Son no less. Moses, a murderer, is called to lead God’s people out of Egypt. Paul, famous for persecuting Christians, is struck blind while taking a walk and ends up being a champion of the Faith, organizing churches and encouraging congregations, even via letters from a jail cell.
And centuries later, our stories are no different. We go to cheer on our children at a game, and instead of eating pizza with them afterward, we are feeding them ice chips in a hospital after surgery for a broken fibula. We plan to wait to start a family and get the news the baby will be here sooner than planned…and he is bringing a twin brother with him! We go from a carefree drive to work to a life-flight we don’t remember taking to thanking God that we are still alive and laughing with visitors who come to bring us hope on the long road back to health. We rejoice at a child’s graduation, and soon find ourselves packing him up to bring him home from college and talking about Plan B.
So often we tend to think of living as only the moments in life filled with joy and hope and laughter. But perhaps the key to really living fully is to accept that life is made up of ALL these things. And just because we are living through a trial, doesn’t mean that life is any less a miracle with which we have been blessed. When many events hit all at once, we might be tempted to focus ONLY on the future…if only this bad year would end…but doing so limits us from seeing the blessings that are in our lives – right next to our stress and grief and worry–today. Even as we gaze at the floor in a waiting room, wringing our hands, people come and sit next to us. Even as we wonder, how could this actually have happened, doctors and surgeons are healing, and calming, and explaining with steady hands and brilliant minds. Even as we gaze through the broken glass at the world, now on an angle, because our car is upside, down, medics slip through the cracks to guide us out of the wreckage and transport us to hospitals. Even as the path we were seemingly on ends suddenly, another one branches off in another direction that we might continue on to a new and different destination.
The message of the Gospel is that even in our darkest hours, we can be surprised by blessings that move us to tears of joy and hope.
Imagine, a Roman Centurion performing his routine duty of guarding a crucifixion, when suddenly he is knocked to his knees by an earthquake that interrupts the whole process and then he has to finish his work with the uncomfortable knowledge that surely this man whom he (among others) allowed to be crucified really was the Son of God.
Imagine, three women, weeping, approaching a tomb, preparing to spend their days grieving, only to find their mourning turned into dancing when they discover this unexpected turn of events: He is Risen…Indeed! Alleluia…
(written October, 2009)