On the first anniversary of my daughter’s death, I woke up to the verse of the day on my phone being Psalm 118:24.
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.Psalm 118:24
I was stunned for a moment and then I prayed between sobs, “really God? Am I supposed to be joyful today?”
Of course, this wasn’t some cosmic karma or cruel joke. I subscribe to a verse-of-the-day app like millions of other people. And I have read and recited this same verse hundreds of times. Often glibly going about my busy day taking it for granted that everyone else is also smelling the roses and smiling at their neighbors.
But I’m not the only person in the world and each day is not mine alone. At least one of the nearly 7.8 billion people on this earth is experiencing something tragic every single day. And, the darkest day of my life was a beautiful and joyful day for someone else.
I don’t take it for granted anymore that a day that starts out joyful will stay that way. When you’ve had your feet knocked out from under you and your worst fears come true, you know how life can change in an instant. How an unexpected ring of the doorbell or a late-night phone call can stop your heart. And you look around stunned that the rest of the world is still breathing, still planning dinner, still acting like nothing has changed. When EVERYTHING has changed. For you.
And while I don’t take it for granted, now more than four years since that cruel verse of the day, I have learned that always anticipating the worst is no way to live either. I don’t have to steel myself against every possible bit of bad news. I can have a soft heart and allow love in, even if there’s a possibility that I’ll be hurt. I can hold the ones I love close without smothering them. And, I can truly slow down and enjoy the time we have together, however long that is.
Some days are very hard to rejoice in. Some I have wondered what God was thinking when he made them. I wish no day was dark and dreadful for anyone. I wish none of us had experienced the worst day of our lives. But, guess what. That’s God’s wish as well. He didn’t make these days – He didn’t make this world – to be filled with tragedy. He made it to be full of rejoicing. I pray he reminds me of that every day. And that someday I will be in that “land of uncloudy days.” Rejoicing will be easy there. I look forward to it.