We held Michiel’s “Celebration of Life” service on the Sunday afternoon before Martin Luther King Day. It was the only day that those of us flying in to Seattle from around the country could all be there.
Before any of it happened, I’d had plans for the holiday. It fell on my birthday this year, and I’d intended to fly back into Charlotte after a long weekend with friends in Austin and go straight to a meeting at my church. It was going to be the first time a group of us with plans to plant a new church were gathering together.
Instead, I caught a red eye flight home from the hardest day of my life and arrived in Charlotte just after 6 a.m., exhausted and devastated. My mom had to have a minor surgery that day and so I had my birthday lunch in the waiting room of Novant Medical Center with my dad.
But I held on to my plans for the church gathering. I’d expected a simple meeting, but when I arrived, they said that we’d be walking over to our small sanctuary for worship. I almost left. “Worship” sounded emotional and I didn’t want to break down in front of all these people I didn’t know.
As we stood to sing, they began to play, “Your mercy never fails me, all my days I’ve been held in Your hands, From the moment that I wake up, until I lay my head down, I will sing of the goodness of God.”
And I realized that I didn’t want to cry—something I’d done continuously that week. I found that every part of me wanted to praise the One who is “so, so good.” I’d felt His presence everywhere that week. I knew with certainty that He’d been there in every one of my darkest, hardest moments. And being able to stand there praising Him felt like relief—like a cool salve on the most painful burn. God created us for His glory. We were designed to praise Him.
I’m sharing this now because I know that many of us are going through dark times. We’re anxious and not sleeping well. Work—if we’re lucky enough to have it—is stressful and hard. Companions in our homes—if we’re lucky enough to have them—are driving us crazy. And, underneath it all, we’re all so scared—of loneliness, of loss, of sickness, of death.
But here is what I know: We can praise His goodness even when we’re in the middle of things we don’t understand. He is our refuge. His mercies are new every morning. And He is faithful. In Psalm 28:7, it says that He is our strength and our shield. “My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song.”
When we’re trapped in our homes and tired, worried, and scared, praising Him may feel like the opposite of what we want. But it is exactly what we need. And whether that looks like helping others, joyful music, or simply a bowed head, it’s what He wants for us.
Not because He needs it. But because He knows our hearts were designed for it. And because He really is so, so good.
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Thank you for your story and thoughts about what we have been going through the past two weeks. Appears like it might also be the next three or four weeks. Your words took this 70 year old, who thinks he’s really 60, out of a funk and made it, to me, seem like the sun was shining even though I know it was overcast outside. I hope you stay safe and also live according to your and the lords words. Be safe and smile.