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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:

 

  1. The overcoming of enemies thanks to God who doesn’t let them rejoice over me. (verse 1)
  2. Sorrow is only temporary. Life and joy follow soon enough. (verse 5)
  3. When I am victorious and successful, I cannot forget the Lord. I am nothing. He is all. (verse 6)
  4. 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.

I find myself grateful for much, and even for that which seems hopeless in life, there is room for thankfulness. Some lessons are better learned in sorrow. Click to read full post.

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10 comments

  • Carol November 23, 2018   Reply →

    It is all good when our focus is on the Lord. I appreciate the perspective you draw after a difficult month and will keep this thought “hold the light and carry it like a gift”. I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for my daughter & husband, six grandchildren and my son & his wife. It was a joy to see my grandson participate in a family game–he has recovered from a bleeding aneurysm in the brain. We are still praying for continued improvement in his vision.

    • Erendira Ramirez-Ortega November 23, 2018   Reply →

      O wow, Carol, your cup filleth over! What joy! I will pray for your grandson’s vision to improve. I’m so glad to hear he was involved in some fun with his family despite what he’s been through. The Lord is mighty to see him through.

  • Paula Kiger November 24, 2018   Reply →

    Lovely reflection. I have to write about the fires daily (lately) through my work at SmartBrief, and I am floored by the lives changed (and lost). Thank you for sharing this.

    • Erendira Ramirez-Ortega November 28, 2018   Reply →

      I am glad you are writing and persevering!

  • Jennifer November 26, 2018   Reply →

    Your mother is very wise – counting her days carefully and savoring each event, holiday and time spent with those she loves. There is, indeed, value there and a wisdom for all of us….no matter our age!

    • Erendira Ramirez-Ortega November 28, 2018   Reply →

      I think about aging as she is, and it breaks my heart that I am not guaranteed that length of years. I wish to God that I may travel around the sun a lot more years.

  • Calleen Petersen November 27, 2018   Reply →

    It’s so true that often we need to learn through trials and sorrow and it is that much sweeter because of it.

    • Erendira Ramirez-Ortega November 27, 2018   Reply →

      Yes, indeed Calleen. We need to remember that more often than not.

  • Rebecca Jones November 28, 2018   Reply →

    There is nothing better than His peace and resting in it, we do get caught up in mundane things and even as you say try to foolishly carry it all.

    • Erendira Ramirez-Ortega November 28, 2018   Reply →

      Yes, His peace is wonderful.

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