Last week, we put our oldest daughter on a plane back to college, the sadness of the parting intensified by gray skies and pouring rain. Foreseeing the emotional difficulty for our family during the hours following her departure, I decided it would be a good time to take down the Christmas decorations, to prepare the house for the New Year. Really, to just stay busy so we didn’t have time to think and feel too much. A few hours later, the decorations down and the laundry done, we sat in the midst of a clean house that felt just a little too quiet. My youngest suggested watching a movie, which distracted us for a little longer. And so in this way we got through the day.
Along with the tactic of keeping busy, I also, of course, turned to my all-too-common comfort in times of stress. It began with a Chai Tea Latte, size Grande (after all, I needed that extra caffeine to stay awake after our early morning airport run!). Later in the day my sweet husband treated us to Five Guys, where I happily gorged myself on a fully loaded cheeseburger and fries. By the time I went to bed I had worked my way almost all the way through an entire large Hershey bar (let me check that; no, it was actually all but three blocks of a GIANT Hershey bar!). And I was sick, not only to my stomach, but of feeling confined by the gloom of the day.
Suddenly, a picture flashed into my mind from the last day of our recent visit to the big island of Hawaii. We woke up to rain, which was frustrating, because we had so much we still wanted to do before we flew out. In spite of the weather, we decided to press on with our plan to drive to the visitor center below the peak of the Mauna Kea to see what we could see. The pouring rain continued all the way to the mountain, but as the grade steepened sharply and we began to approach the visitor center, something amazing happened: we broke through the top of the clouds and found ourselves in bright sunshine under clear blue skies. And we spent an exhilarating morning hiking in the foothills of the Mauna Kea, looking down triumphantly at the cloudy valley below.
As I recalled those refreshing hours of hiking in the sunshine, my heart yearned to escape the gloom of this day and once again feel that exhilarating joy. And finally, at that late hour, I turned to Him who is the source of all joy, the One whose joy is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10), who will make “my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights (Psalm 18:33).” I asked the Lord to help me see things from a better perspective, from His perspective, to help me “set my mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:2).” And then I took action. Beginning with a good night’s rest, I woke up early the next morning to ensure a good time of Bible study and prayer. I pulled on my new running shirt that quotes Isaiah 40:31: “They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint,” and I enjoyed a run in bright sunshine. And then, as if to lock in my new outlook on life, God blessed me with an encouraging call from a good friend.
Thank You, Lord, for filling me with Your eternal joy, and for giving me supportive family and friends, near and far. Help me when I struggle, even with small things, to turn immediately to You, and to teach my children to do the same, instead of wasting time looking for comfort in temporal things (like giant Hershey bars!) that cannot truly satisfy. Be my rock and my foundation through all the storms that life may bring.
The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him (Psalm 28:7).