The year was 1964. My mother sat in the waiting room outside intensive care, a coast away from the rest of the family. She did not know whether her 21 year old son, in critical condition, would survive the head injury sustained in a car accident. Hours stretched into days as an untenable future loomed. Then after a week there was improvement. My brother was able to come home and begin rehabilitation.
My mother told me later that one Bible verse in particular had sustained her during this time of unknowing and dread. Yet it was not a verse related to healing or the hope of heaven. It was Psalm 118:24: “This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.”
I found that incongruous. Rejoice? Really?
The Bible tells us that the “joy of the Lord is our strength.” regardless of our circumstances.
The apostle Paul suffered floggings, shipwreck, a snake bite, a thorn in the flesh, imprisonment. Yet as his body grew weaker and death was imminent, he wrote to the church in Philippi, “Rejoice always. Again I say rejoice.”
Then he added, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (My favorite verse, by the way.)
In his book, The Life You’ve Always Wanted”, John Ortberg says –
“My main job is to live with deep contentment, joy, and confidence in my everyday experience of life with God. Everything else is job number two.”
So job number one is choosing to rejoice. Not in a Pollyanna way. In a way that says, I have made my requests known to God. All is well with my soul. There IS the hope of heaven. And death does not have the final word.
Amen and Amen.