Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Full Inheritance of the Psalms - Lament, Praise, Despair, Trust, Gratitude

I wasn’t going to post anything today. My heart has been too heavy. But then…

This morning, Abby woke us up by standing at her bedroom door and singing in her sweet little voice:

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise God all creatures here below…

When I got to her door, before she even asked to be picked up and held (which is her usual first request), she asked to hold my hand. She asked to hold my hand like we do at (almost) every meal. She asked to hold my hand like we do when we sing:

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise God, all creatures here below;
Praise God above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.”

It’s as if she knew that today was a day meant to emphasize the gratitude that we try to remember as a family each and every day. But, of course, she couldn’t have known. And for THAT I am grateful. I am grateful that she woke up singing “thank you,” as if it were any other day.

As much as there are things to lament — and recent events, in addition to the Psalms that have become my lifeblood and a timely blog from my good friend Tara, remind me that there are good reasons to lament nearly every day — I do want to say “thank you.” Not because this day has been set aside for that purpose. Not because this day that is so complicated because it is tied to a revisionist history that attempts to forget the exploitation of land and others that is a part of our national heritage. Not because it is “the thing to do.”

No, I want to say “thank you” because a week ago today, while Sarah and I were in the hospital trying to welcome Matthijs into the world, a whole bunch of people were supporting us. Our family was thinking of and praying for us, even if they did not know that baby boy was so close to coming. Our beautiful Crossroads family was praying for us (they knew almost before anyone else, by virtue of the fact that I was not at Youth Group on Wednesday and we were close to the due date). Our seminary family was coming together to take care of Abby, with multiple families watching her over four days, because our biological family lives so far away. The family of doctors, nurses and midwives was doing their best to make sure both mama and baby were healthy. And over the past week, as we struggled with no sleep, adjusting to having two children, and dealing with all of the doubts and joys and highs and lows that new parents experience, so many people have stopped by with meals we didn’t ask for, offers to play with Abby for an hour so we could rest, words of encouragement, and more generosity than we could imagine. More than once, Sarah and I have broken down crying — tears of joy for how much we are loved.

For those today who are grieving loved ones — I grieve with you. For those today who are lamenting injustice — I lament with you. For those today who are in the midst of the pit, who are asking “O my soul, why are you so cast down within me?” — I pray I can muster the strength to climb down with you and offer the rejoinder “hope in God, for we shall again praise our help and our God.” (Ps. 42) But, in a way I did not expect and could not have asked for, today I also can muster an honest “thank you,” both to God and to others. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

May we all find time in our day, every day, to “rejoice with those who rejoice” and “mourn with those who mourn,” (Rom. 12). May we take up the full inheritance of the Psalms each day — praise, lament, despair, trust, gratitude.

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