On any given day, it’s a mix.
I remember the first time I truly grasped that concept. It was spring. I was a freshman in high school. My Aunt Shirley had just died and we were on our way to the cemetery to bury her body. Shirley, who was joy. Shirley, who was light. Shirley, who seriously had the best laugh of any human being and was willing to share her laughter at a moment’s notice.
Now, Aunt Shirley was gone. And people had the audacity to go about their daily life as if the world was normal. I saw people pulling into fast food restaurants and grocery shopping. People were pumping gas and going to the bank. For an instant I was mad at them. And in a moment I will never forget, I realized that was me . . . the week before her death . . . when my life was still “normal.”
When my daughter was in therapy at Shepherd’s Center in Atlanta, Georgia, after our horrible wreck, the room where I was attempting to convalesce was directly across from the entrance to the hospital. Every day I would see one, two, four, sometimes even five children or adults, obviously paralyzed, unloaded and taken into the hospital, where they, like my daughter, would have to learn how to do life in a wheelchair. Fourteen blissful days earlier, I’d never even known a facility like Shepherd’s Center existed. Two weeks later, paralysis and the minute-by-minute battle against paralysis would bore to the core of my existence. Every time I would see a new patient and his or her family enter the facility, I would pray. “Help them, Lord. Help them. They have no idea what is ahead.” All this, while I too, really had no idea what lay ahead.
On any given day, it’s a mix.
Ezra, the man tasked with overseeing the rebuilding of the temple after the exile of Jerusalem, well. . . I think he understood better than most of us, that on any given day, it’s a mix.
Ezra understood fear. Ezra Chapter 3 verse 3 says, “Despite their fears of the people around them they built the altar on its foundation.” Ezra understood he was called to accomplish what seemed a gargantuan task and not only was the task enormous, he was also fearful. He had fears. The people around the demolished city of Jerusalem were just waiting to attack. But Ezra and his people pressed on with the task, despite their fears.
And so Ezra plowed ahead in fear, which leads us, Dear Reader, to the end of chapter 3: “And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads who had seen the former temple wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.”
July 17th represents the worst day of my life. July 17th is the wedding anniversary of a good friend of mine and represents one of the best days of her life. It’s a mix.
And God can handle the mix. On any given day the shouts of joy and praise which rise to Him are mingled with the sounds of weeping from those who are hurting and broken. My worst days are other people’s best days and vice versa. God has prior experience at handling both.
On any given day, I humbly offer, Dear Reader, that God and God alone is the only one who can handle the mix. And I firmly believe He’s ok with us crying out to Him – even if it’s difficult to distinguish whether our utterings are shouts of joy or weeping.
Until the next Wednesday the Lord allows.