Hugging and kissing Harry goodbye is not something I’m good at. I squeezed him and smiled and told him that I would miss him the second we were apart. And that is the God’s honest truth. When I love I’m all in. And I SO love that man. Sometimes I fear I love him too much. So much it hurts.
As I pulled the car out of the drive a familiar song came on the radio called Blessed Be Your Name. The guys that made this song really famous, Tree63, are from South Africa and I met them and had a nice chat with their lead singer many moons ago. Really nice guys. Anyway, it was one of my favorites.
The song talks about how we should offer God praise in bad times as well as good, through our smiles and in our pain.
“Blessed be Your name, when I’m found in the desert place, though I walk through the wilderness blessed be your name.”
And I thought to myself how much easier it is to sing this song when things are great. And right now, I certainly have no complaints. But I remember singing this song with a cracked voice and tears streaming down my eyes as I attempted to have the right heart in the midst of sorrow and pain. It goes onto say,
“Blessed be your name when the sun’s shining down on me and the world’s all that it should be.” Yes, much easier then.
The end of the song chants over and over,
“You give and take away, You give and take away. My heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name.”
And I thought about life and death and how fleeting happiness truly is and how if you’re not grounded by something more than the desire to be happy…well…I could see getting easily derailed. I thought about giving birth to my son and what a gift a child is and how that example alone reflects the truth of the song. Kids are such a blessing and yet they introduce hardship like nothing else into your life. As much as they are a blessing, they require sacrifice. When you love someone you are willing, even eager to sacrifice something that is valuable for them. Likewise, when we don’t feel like praising God because of our circumstances, that is when we should offer it as a sacrifice of praise.
When I wrote Pain in Your Heart it was kind of discussing the same idea in different way. I said,
“But pain in your heart is different. It only comes because you care, because you love. And love is good. Pain in your heart usually comes from a loss of that love. Or from being hurt by someone you love. It is an expected outcome of love. Expected because everyone dies. And eventually you will lose the people you love.”
To love at all is the acceptance of that sacrifice.
But I smiled today instead of cried as I listened to the song. I am very grateful for the happy days I’ve been having. Very grateful.
I pulled into my garage, said hi to the kids who were sprawled on the family room couch watching Doctor Who, turned my computer on and saw an email update on my work friend who has been in a coma for over a month from a very aggressive cancer.
The last time I saw him was less than two months ago. We nearly giggled at our meeting talking about how just about everything in life could be explained with a Seinfeld episode and he leaned on me as we walked into a restaurant for a business lunch with about 4 others including his wife who drove him there because he was too weak. And when he left I stood up to get the door for him and he said good-bye to me.
I know now that will be the last time I will ever see him this side of heaven. This man was larger than life. He knew something about everything. He was fascinating to listen to. So smart, so kind, so funny. And he loved it when I challenged his ideas and we would spar back and forth. I got to give him a hug and tell him how much I loved him when we first learned of his illness and I sent him a heartfelt email early on which he responded to and I will cherish. But his family is now preparing for him to die. It’s only been a couple of months.
And I couldn’t help but think of that song again.
“Every blessing you pour out I’ll turn back to praise, and when the darkness closes in Lord…still I’m gonna say….”
It’s hard in moments like this. This wonderful amazing gift of life we all get is also unpredictable and can be very sad. One cannot exist without the other. The shadow proves the sunshine for without light there would be no shadow. It’s a very hard truth. But such is life. And you can disagree, and fight it, and hate it but that doesn’t change anything.
One of my favorite authors Corrie Ten Boom who is a holocaust survivor and had her fair share of pain and loss used to say often, “I’ve learned to hold everything loosely because it hurts when God pries my fingers from it.”
It’s so hard to do when you love someone very much.
“Blessed be Your name, on the road marked with suffering, though there’s pain in the offering…blessed be Your name.”
“…The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
“And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city,but we are looking for the city that is to come.
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”