Remembering praise

He could have written the story very differently.

I believe that with all my heart.

Any one of a thousand details could have altered the course. We could be celebrating this Thanksgiving week with Marissa healed and well. We could be proclaiming God’s goodness in the victory of successful treatment and answered prayer.

That was the story we longed for and the one we thought would bring Him the most glory.

That is how I would have written the story.

God’s sovereignty is perhaps the most confusing of all of His attributes. We rest in it, but we never fully understand it. We seek peace in it, but we feel vulnerable when suffering.

We believe, but we wonder.

It is the promise of His goodness that comforts us.

God is good. What He does is good. And somehow through His sovereign, guiding hand, He brings all suffering to a place of goodness.

It is the highlight of the story. It is the emotional ending, the satisfying sigh. It is the drama and the climax and the happy conclusion.

It is there on every page if we look for it.

I am looking for it. I am remembering. I am letting the remembrance of God’s goodness surround me.

I am remembering praise. For His sheltering wings. For abundant help in the day of trouble. For grace in every moment. For mercy and salvation. For the keeping power of Christ.

I am remembering all of you. Your prayers that carried us and your many kindnesses that encouraged us.

I am remembering the gifts He has given–shelter and abundant provision. My people. Warmth and joy. Wealth of soul. Peace and beauty.

I am remembering the goodness in Marissa’s story. I remember that she is right now alive. Safe. Kept. Forever healed.

I am remembering the goodness of the Author. I am trusting Him to make everything right, to straighten all the paths. I am anxiously waiting for the sequel.

It will be filled with good lines, and I trust Him with the story.

This I know–the ending will be good because of who He is.

The ending will be glorious.

O LORD, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; for You have worked wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness. Isaiah 25:1

O, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Psalm 34:8












Beauty from ashes

I went to the cemetery this week and sat awhile among the stones and the fading flowers and the quiet. I sat there for the longest time.

A strange feeling of anticipation came as I was driving there. Almost as if I were going for a visit. As if I were getting closer to her somehow.

But she was not there. And though there was a whole world of comfort in knowing she was not, I cried. I let myself remember how much I miss her. I let the sadness sweep over me.

I let the weariness of grief sink down in me.

I listened to it, let it sing its silent song.

Life has been busy and noisy, pulsing with activity. My teenagers were at a fine arts festival this past week, and it was joy to watch the young ones sing and play and create. I see their shining faces, all aglow with youth and inspiration and longing.

Marissa was there as a teenager, too. She sang and she laughed and she told stories. I remember her face as she sang. I remember her exuberant joy. She was just living her life, and not one of us knew how short it would be.

Indeed, there was only One who knew.

The leaves have turned beautiful shades of color. It seemed sudden–green and then vibrant. Plain and then beautiful. And already they are blowing to the ground. Already some are damp and brown.

Some beauty is given for only a little while. We hold on to it while it is here. We grasp it imperfectly. We weep when it is gone.

God tells us that this life is a vapor, a breath. A mist. Like smoke that rises from a blackened fire. Like a song that is fading away.

But this life is not the only one.

And the Author of every good thing, each kind of beauty, calls us. He invites us through His Son to spend eternity with Him. He reminds us through pain, through suffering, to let go of this world and its temporary pleasure. To invest in the forever things. To believe.

He invites us to know the source of beauty. To know the forever One.

The One who turns ashes into beauty in His forever world.

His world without end.

This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. John 6:50

Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner; but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed. Isaiah 51:6

To grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:3

Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Matthew 13:43