Somewhere Between



Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:19-23

This afternoon I read a few dozen greeting cards as I was waiting for my prescriptions to be filled. Max Lucado had a whole section on the rack and I perused his hopeful, uplifting sentiments and well-chosen scriptures. But my throat was raw, my body ached, and I wanted to leave. I wanted so badly to feel better that I would have chewed through the bag and plastic bottle to get to the antiobiotics. My wife had lovingly diagnosed my condition as having progressed from “irritable” to “sad and pathetic.”

Despite the pharmacy’s alchemy, I know I face another restless night of soreness, coughing and frustration as one hour on the clock begrudgingly gives way to the next. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Pretty whiny, don’t you think? After all, in the month of August people close to me have had endured ruptured aortas, bypass surgeries, severe anxiety and depression and even lost a spouse. I have nothing about which to be pathetic by comparison. I know this and yet the perspective offers little comfort. Why not?

It’s not just that other people have it worse—it has been a great month! My wife got a new job, we had a wonderful vacation, God has moved mightily within our congregation and people have been incredibly supportive of my family. Just last night I was moved to tears by a note someone left in my office.

So here I sit, feeling like the unfaithful wretch that I am. Isn’t that where many of us spend way too much time—cut off from God in a prison of our own making, craving that intimacy and clarity that come once in a while but not often enough? We live on the plain and only occasionally visit the mountaintop or the valley.

The truth is, things aren’t always so great. A successful baseball player only gets one hit out of three tries. A windshield is clear for just a split second after the wiper passes over it. We wish we could sound like Max Lucado’s greeting cards but we end up sounding more like Maxwell Smart from the old 60’s TV show—fumbling and ridiculous, a product of the world around us and not reflective of the image of God within us.

Where is God in all this? Right where he always is and perhaps wondering when we’ll crawl out of our basements and let ourselves be warmed by the sun.

I only recently learned that my favorite hymn (Great Is Thy Faithfulness) came from the book of Lamentations in the scripture at the top of the page.  What wonderful honesty and hope in that passage! The writer is not pretending that things were wonderful when they were not, but he knows that God has been faithful, is faithful, and will ever be faithful.

I think I’m starting to get better, because about an hour ago I wandered out of my bedroom pretending to be in the midst of a codeine-cough-syrup-induced delirium. Unfortunately my wife was upstairs and missed it but I did manage to scare the children a little. Guess my condition has been upgraded from “pathetic” to “irritable.” Progress!

God is faithful. He will forgive me my weakness as always and the sun will come out tomorrow. And maybe we’ll even have a greeting card moment—somewhere between the plain and the mountaintop, perhaps.

Good night.




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