Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. — James 5:13
The day I met Rebecca, she invited me over to her house for egg salad and raspberries. We were coworkers, the only two squeezed into a ten-foot-by-ten-foot office like two college roommates. Within hours of meeting, she’d offered me sparkling water, introduced me to her Great Dane, and muttered a German phrase when something didn’t go quite right. I was sure I liked her already. A former theater teacher, Rebecca now had a new job that involved shipping labels instead of stage directions, but she ended each day by saying, “We’re doing so great,” as if the workday had all been a successful dress rehearsal.
While we both loved Broadway show tunes and could play the flute, the lives we went home to after work were very different. Rebecca had four children (with another on the way) and an adoring husband, while I barely knew anyone in the city I’d just moved to on my own. Even though she already had more than enough mouths to feed, she was never hesitant to add one more to the family dinner table, where Bess the Great Dane would hunt for crumbs beneath my feet and Rebecca’s children would entertain me with memorized facts about bald eagles. When the meal was over, Rebecca would send me home with leftovers and sheet music, her kids standing at the top of the driveway to wave goodbye. “You’re doing so great,” she’d say. And when I drove from their house back to my own little apartment, I knew I’d found home.
With Rebecca, I was comfortable enough to stretch out in God’s kindness and call it exactly what it was — good.
And our office songs and delirious laughter had become praise.
But it wasn’t always that way. In fact, Rebecca was with me the early morning I got the absolute worst news — my brother had died unexpectedly in an accident. I will never forget the way her mouth rounded the words “Lord, have mercy.” Intent on getting me to my parents as soon as possible, she looked up flights, then determined she’d deliver me to my family herself. We began our hours-long road trip with silence, my black dress in the back seat. Sometimes I would sob, but mostly I was shocked, beginning a sentence only to trail off, realizing the story would be completely different from now on. “Lord, have mercy,” she continued.
It didn’t change what had happened, but she was creating a home in a place I never wanted to go.
I used to think the world was divided into good-news people and bad-news people, those with a stroke of luck and those without. Consequently, I lived in fear of becoming a bad-news person. But when I became one, I experienced what Rebecca had been showing me all along: our immediate need for the nearness of Christ, no matter our circumstance.
We need equal measures of Him in both our “You’re doing so greats” and our “Lord, have mercys.”
Life as God’s children includes not just a possibility of happiness and trouble, but rather a guarantee of both. However, as we experience joy and hardship, worship offers us a way to continue giving and receiving the one thing that holds the two together: God’s glory.
May our lives become one rhythmic refrain of His goodness, not separated by good or bad news, but unified by His care for His children in both. Today, let our lips express our prayers and praise to our Father, who has created a home for us.
Excerpted with permission from The Book of Comforts by Kaitlin Wernet, copyright Caleb Faires, Rebecca Faires, Kaitlin Wernet, Cymone Wilder.
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None of us are immune to grief. At some point we’ll all bear the banner of heartache. But, when you’re not the one sledging through the mud of an endless battle of the pain, how do you act as the mouthpiece of God? How do you find comfort in order to comfort others? Come share on our blog.