Not so long ago when I delivered my babe, when we welcomed a little parade of celebrating friends through our hospital room, there was a sobering and joyful thing that I noticed. Three of my sister-friends who came to hold my little squish had come at high cost to their own grief. One carries a diagnosis that she will never biologically bear children. One had, in this same hospital, held a child that ended up as a failed adoption. One had, also in this same hospital, undergone medical treatment for a pregnancy that ended far too early.
And yet they came, sharing bona fide joy, giving the tiniest of high-fives to my new baby. How. On. Earth. could these women do this? When I look around and see only ash heaps of hopes in my own timeline, it can be salt in an open wound to see the thriving, the “yes” after “yes” for people around. Genuine cheer and celebration for others while I struggle is a character trait I’m growing in.
Psalm 16 has been a lifeline for me to remember what (actually Who) is so good in dark times that feel quite the opposite. What would it mean for me to live fully in this truth?
“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; You hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”
For God to hold our lot is fearsome and wonderful. He holds my finances, my marriage, my career, my extended families, my church family, my health, my babies, all of it. So what is there to say when He takes away? What also when He takes away from me the same thing He is giving to my friends?
When we were broke as a joke and scrambling to find a few hundred dollars for yet another tire that shredded on our jalopy of a car, it stung to see friends easily upgrading their beautiful homes.
When I wondered if my husband would ever find work this side of the ocean, in the months when I cowered at well-meaning friends asking, “So what’s next for you guys?” it was a fight to honestly be excited for people living in their ten-year job trajectory and getting another promotion.
When I felt so much like an outsider and struggled to find safe relationships, I ached when hearing of other people’s “tribes” and being so known.
But even His loving “no” to me was part of His lot for me. He Himself has always been my “yes”. And how about this inheritance? The promised Holy Spirit who is a stamp on my inheritance ahead! It is a rich and glorious inheritance waiting for me! An inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for me!
For God to be Himself my portion and my cup, it means I have hit the lottery every day when I wake up. Not a stingy allowance that buys me a few pieces of penny candy. Not the last sliver of crusty pie. Not a few drops at the bottom of a teacup. He is so abundant, so plentiful, that David can later sing,
“Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure…You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore,” Psalm 16:9, 11
I’ve found that as I rehearse this truth more and more, both in favorable and in low days, I believe it in ever increasing value. It bubbles up and satisfies me to greatest fullness in my full being. It’s always true that God is good, but I sometimes have to get bossy with my feelings about it when I don’t feel like days are good. And do you know what freedom this brings? To finally find joy in the Lord and His goodness in a way that surpasses my ugly days? The grief of my loss may still linger, but He eclipses it with His supremely abundant glory. His presence is my full joy.
With God Himself as my portion, my cup, I am also free to party for her new job, the provision of home, her husband’s promotion, her landing that creative venture, or her wide circle of beloved friends, them leaving for an exotic mission field or having another baby, and the sunny, sandy vacation she just took. It can’t take away the forever and beautiful inheritance—mine or hers. I’m no longer threatened that God’s grace is a zero-sum game because He is limitless, my pleasures forevermore.