More Valuable Than What a Book Can Teach
Some lessons are better learned in sorrow
As soon as my son returned from a few days backpacking and tenting in the desert in October, we were off again in November for a weekend in Mexico. There, I got sick for days, my madrina almost choked at a taco stand, my middle son got a nosebleed, my daughter got stung by a cactus, and my mother’s face became puffy from a mite infestation, all during the trip. It’s been an eventful month. The air in California recently has been brutal considering the Woolsey firestorms that misplaced so many. I find myself grateful for much, and even for that which seems hopeless in life, there is room for thankfulness. Being ill is humbling. Being out of the country, albeit for a few days, was a lesson more valuable than what a book can teach.
I cooked ham and turkey for Thanksgiving, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. We worked and labored one night with our church family and another with my mom. We delighted in God’s bounty, joyful and thankful.
My mother is tired. She blessed me with the responsibility to cook the Thanksgiving feast for years to come. Her fingers are bent with arthritis, her arms and shoulders are sore with the cares of an aging body and mind. She loves us tremendously and is counting her days carefully with every occasion she shares with us. There’s value in that.
It’s been a while since I’ve been at peace, since I’ve rested fully in the arms of the Lord.
We are so doubtful and so fickle, we foolishly try too hard to carry it all. But this weekend especially, I’ve felt more grounded. I’ve seen people lose their homes, hopeful to find loved ones missing in the firestorms, and it breaks my heart. It teaches me something. It doesn’t let me look away. I hold my children tighter, I forgive more swiftly, I purge what is unnecessary, I toss wasteful occupations.
My thirteen-year-old son recently offered a devotional to our congregation for Thanksgiving. He reflected on Psalm 30 and David’s station in the depths of despair, his enemies and their eagerness to gloat over his vulnerability, and his near death experience. There are four parts I took away that evening:
- The overcoming of enemies thanks to God who doesn’t let them rejoice over me. (verse 1)
- Sorrow is only temporary. Life and joy follow soon enough. (verse 5)
- When I am victorious and successful, I cannot forget the Lord. I am nothing. He is all. (verse 6)
- Despite the tears and heartache of this life, He turns it all into joy. I don’t need to wear hopelessness for He covers me in gladness. (verse 11)
So much today—news, people, culture—are a discouraging force today, and perhaps this is the best time to lean into the Lord and seek Him. There’s no bitter turmoil He cannot defeat. We can’t stay complacent in our station for too long without realizing that He is coming soon to carry His bride home.
So I take comfort in that and know who is the victor over all the chaos this season may bring. We need to give our heart, our eyes, our ears a rest from the noise, the blazing fires, and the vicious rhetoric on full display. Hold the light instead and carry it like a gift to those you meet.
I wish you all the best in giving thanks to the One who is the giver of all things. And a special prayer goes out to those who are missing something this season. You are remembered.