I am in another hard week. Not just for me, I recognize. This is a hard season for my household, our community and for the world at large. Things feel heavy because they are heavy. Sickness and Violence and Injustice and Disaster should always be things that weigh on our souls; they should never be welcome things in our lives and in this world.
So I hold those things. The Bad Things.
I cannot emotionally and physically hold only The Bad Things. And neither can you. Whatever we try to tell ourselves, however we try to justify it, it is too much. Which is why we have permission to find The Good Things, too. Even if they are small, even if they are stored in our memories, even they have not yet arrived, we all have access to The Good Things.
I recently landed in the Emergency Department because of a medication reaction causing me to nearly pass out and shake uncontrollably. I had such a strong anxiety attack my medical team filled my IV with Valium after helping me with fluids. On top of being painful and scary, it was a huge disappointment: this was the medication that my cardiology team had hoped would prolong my heart’s life. My intolerance means we have to try something different and anticipate my heart’s quicker decline. Bad Things.
So it struck me as somewhat miraculous when I started finding The Good Things:
My mother-in-law drove in from Oklahoma gave up her entire week to help me and Ben at home. She assisted with meals, house cleaning, and health maintenance. She gave us not only the gift of her presence, but also took away the burden of literal hours of chores that would have fallen to my caregiving husband. She is a Good Thing.
I was able to talk to my mother, too, and celebrate her birthday on the phone. Both sides of my family sent meaningful e-mail, adorable photos, and daily “Life in Fresno” updates. My incredible husband continued to care for me (and make me laugh in the process!). They are a Good Thing.
Friends reached out to see how I am feeling and functioning. Local pals ran errands and my next door neighbor dropped off a homemade dinner. People prayed and sent us encouragement in their own words and in Scripture. These are Good Things.
A haircut. A drive to Dover. Lizards and bunnies and butterflies. All Good Things.
The Psalmist declares that God fills life with Good Things. And I am someone determined to see and accept God’s Good Things, to allow them to exist alongside the Bad. To open my eyes and also my hands, to see and to receive. I am also determined to try not to blame God for the Bad Things, the things that are not God’s plan for our world that we create ourselves. The God who forgives, heals, ransoms me, surrounds me, and fills my life with Good Things is with me and is with you.
So today, as we navigate the Bad, while Ben quarantines downstairs and we monitor ourselves for Covid symptoms and worry about our friends who are sick and try to prayerfully make decisions to care for our community and world, I can look outside at our Rose of Sharon in full magenta bloom and think: Praise the God of Good Things.