It took one friend to take Little Man home with her, then to practice. Another friend to bring the girls home from their practice. And the Coach getting another girl home from school and picking Little Man up after his practice. Just for me to have the night off. I'm so thankful for all of the help so I could go!
I sat there, overwhelmed with the beauty. And the joy in my heart. Things are GOOD with our troops right now. Busy, happy, healthy. I'm so thankful. But this joy in my heart is deeper than that. It's that joy that comes after you've come through the valley of the shadow of death and FOUND JOY THERE. Not the joy that only comes after a trial (although I admit how amazing it is to be on the other side!). But the deeper joy that comes when you realize that no matter what happens, peace and joy can still fill your heart.
On my one side? A dear friend who has been caring for her mother that recently suffered a stroke. The all encompassing work and heart ache and exhaustion to watch someone you love so dearly suffer so deeply. All while caring for her own family and a recently empty nest and her baby in college far away.
On the other side? Another precious friend whose husband is suffering greatly from a degenerative illness that allows for very little rest and recuperation for either of them or their family. Also with a newly empty nest and a young college student.
I sat there between them, thinking of this past year at the troops, the heart ache and suffering that my boy has experienced. How we are still exhausted and the tears still fall when we least expect them. How I wonder every day what the long-term scars will be - not only for my boy, but for the other troops and the Coach and I.
The three of us sitting there with that music washing over us, are really just like all of mankind for all time. Each one of us having our own physical trials and emotional heart ache and pain. We all have pain. Of some sort, at some time. Some sweet friends I pray for daily have had a lifetime of it.
I don't understand why. I never will. It doesn't make sense to me at all. Our kind and wise teacher not recovering from his bone marrow transplant, leaving his kids and grand babies without their Pop. Our volleyball coach's wife (and my dear friend) leaving her family and this earth at a time that was certainly way too soon for her husband and her seven children. Babies who have physical challenges that can't be overcome this side of eternity. So much loss and suffering.
I don't have to understand.
It's enough to know that All is Well. Not because my circumstances are "well" or because my life is easy and uncomplicated and pain-free. All is well because we have Immanuel. God with us.
He's with us today, when the house is decorated for Christmas and we have basketball games to look forward to. As we celebrate Advent and have our kids home with us and enjoy time with our families.
He's with us tomorrow in the unknown, the fears, the uncertainly, that defines life on this earth.
He's Immanuel. God with us. And all is well.
by Wayne Kirkpatrick, Michael W. Smith