My brother-in-law, David, is one of the the funniest people I know. Not because he tries to be witty or is constantly cracking jokes, but as my husband, Jerry, likes to say, “He’s funny even though he doesn’t mean to be.” In David’s southern Virginian, gentleman drawl, he can turn an ordinary occurrence of his day into an entertaining story that anyone listening can’t help but start laughing. One of my favorites is when he tells about his dogs, or rather how he says it, his “dawgs.”
David loves to hunt. It really doesn’t matter what season it is, deer, dove, or turkey—and there might be others I’m not aware of—he just thrives on being out in the woods with his passel of hounds he has affectionately named “The Convicts.” Those beagles who live outside in a pen—more like a castle to hear my sister, Marlene, describe it—have over the years mastered the art and technique of breaking out to roam the countryside. When those mischief-makers are finally spotted by a caring neighbor or reappear conveniently on their own just in time for dinner, David will, with a great deal of respect, speculate incredulously, “How-did-those-dogs manage their escapes?” It always makes me laugh to hear him recount their antics, so-much-so when I talk with my sister on the phone I always tell her to give my love, not only to David, but also to his friends, The Convicts. You can hardly have one without the other.
Right now, though, David is not able to be out and about with his pups. Life as he and my sister knew it has changed leading them on a journey they otherwise would not have chosen. Cancer has come into their home bringing questions of why, heartache of the unknown, and suffering that does not easily go away.
When my late husband was in the hospital hopeful for a new heart, many days passed with only the sounds of the ICU punctuating the quiet. Going back and forth between caring for him during the day and being at home for my children at night, like the ticking of a metronome, this became my routine. But one evening, shortly after leaving the hospital, the peace of the Lord surprised me, filling not only my mind and heart, but even my car. It was palpable! Comforting and restful, like the calm of softly falling snow, it remained for three days. Strange as it seems, I spoke to no one about it, but held it close, warmly content in my heart. Talking with my husband several days later, he told me he had experienced something that had never happened to him before. Unexplainable peace had filled his heart, staying for three days. But even when the intensity of peace left, deep inside he knew everything was going to be okay.
And it was. For the Lord loved on me in an intimate, special way, making me know through the peace my husband had experienced, that he had come to know the Lord. For you can only know the Peace of God if you belong to Him.
There is so much we don’t understand that happens in life. When “Life is Good,” as the t-shirt boasts, we move along in sweet bliss. But when times are bad, finger pointing and tongue wagging become the norm, and like softened butter, spreading blame onto each other and even to God. Wanting nothing more than smooth seas and sunny days, we are shaken, even angered when storms appear on our horizons.
But God uses all things for good to those who love Him, even those things in our minds and hearts, that don’t make any sense. He promises. (See Romans 8:28.) And during the times of heartache and pain, when we are too weak to have any faith left, God is faithful. He promises that, too. (See 2 Timothy 2:13.)
Praying for the Peace of God for David and Marlene, and so many others who are in the middle of what feels like life crashing down upon them. Loving them in our hearts and holding them up in prayer.