Slightly Obsessed #039 "Learning to Smile" (Wednesday Devo) by Pamela Thorson on 2013-07-17 14:27:31
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! -Philippians 4:4
We were at the local DIY'er supply store to pick up some insulation for my husband’s shop. We had just attended the funeral of a family friend, and I was preoccupied, still mulling over the sights and sounds of the memorial service.
Although we arrived at the large Lutheran church long before the service began, the main sanctuary was already full. We opted for the balcony instead of the extra seating provided in a side room. The balcony offered a panoramic view of the scene below. Above us, the cathedral ceiling soared to breathy heights.
The organist and pianist played our friend's favorite hymns in magnificent tandem. The pastor was appropriately genial and compassionate. Flowers overflowed the altar next to the urn containing the remains of the beloved wife, mother, aunt, and friend. A smiling portrait sat beside the urn.
But I couldn’t take my eyes off the mourners. At the invitation, friends and family members stood one by one and gave touching remembrances of the woman they loved. They were sad, of course, in losing this dear lady. Something else, though, infused the air, a breathy golden lightness flowing from the faces and the words and the smiles and the tears. I suddenly knew what it was:
This amazing woman faced death with the same smile with which she faced life. She lived her last days as she lived her life, simply and thoroughly soaked in the presence of her God. She enjoyed every day she was given to its fullest. And she trusted God for the rest.
I was lost these thoughts in the cabinet aisle when we ran into another acquaintance of ours, a woman who had recently lost her husband. Her pain was fresh, the emotions raw. The three of us talked for what seemed like forever. I’ve never suffered her loss, but I knew the look of desperation that lined her face and quivered in her voice. I promised to pray for her, amazed at how close the eternal always lurks just below the waterline of our lives.
I've lived the desperation. I understand the pain. But as I sit here this morning, as dawn threatens to chase away the dreary night once again, my mind wanders back to the flowered altar and the joyful portrait of a lovely woman who now beholds the face of her Lord. I yearn to live, like her, smiling at the future.
May God continue to remind us that death has been cheated, that we do not mourn as those who have no hope, and that joy is possible - even expected - for us.
Joy really is a choice, after all. We can dwell on our pain, or we can dance in the rain. For this moment, for today, through the power of the Spirit of Life, I want to be different.
I’m learning to smile.
About Pamela Thorson:
Pamela Thorson is a licensed practical nurse, author, and full-time caregiver. She pioneered in the homeschooling movement from 1982-2006 and authored her first book, Song in the Night, in 2008. She resides in the Northwest with her family.
The pain takes us down and drives us to our knees. We long for relief, for a way out. But in the secret place of suffering, we discover that pain is our friend.
Slightly Obsessed #228: The God of the Grateful
My world had just fallen into a pit. We had a young daughter, four other children, and no insurance. I was so sick that I didn’t even know if I could get to the doctor for tests. Despair rolled over us in waves.
Then God spoke.
Slightly Obsessed #227: Release the Beautiful
As we smiled at the people we met on our walk I wondered at the social custom that requires face-to-face congeniality on a bike path among strangers who would soon be in our respective cars fighting over a lane change. It’s easier to be mad at people when we can’t see their faces.
Slightly Obsessed #226: Triune
In its most basic element, our very existence mirrors His Godhead in trinity. Each person enters time and space as three: body, soul, and spirit.
Slightly Obsessed #225: Why Lightning Doesn't Strike the Wicked
The popular radio host was on a rampage, vehemently damning God. He crowned the diatribe by flinging a challenge at God to strike him down at that very moment. He smugly interpreted heaven's silence as proof that there is no God. But what was really happening?
Slightly Obsessed #224: When the Pressure Feels Too Great
The fig I found in a local big box store had already been trimmed into a lovely miniature tree with an unusual trunk. Little did I understand what it takes to train a plant into a bonsai, and what that process would teach me about God.