I am now about a month out from suffering from the medical scare that led to this series of blog posts.
I’m happy to report my vision continues to improve from the torn retina.
Every Thursday night The Wife and I go to the bar at an historic hotel downtown for martinis. We know the bartenders by name, and they know us. We sit there, chat, and just relax.
As I was sitting there last Thursday, I felt different. It was no big thing: a drink at a bar with The Wife and some familiars. In the past, I might have been thinking about all that needed to be done, or what was on the calendar for the next day.
This time though I just savored the moment. I wasn’t worried about losing my vision, or whether my vision was going to improve following surgery. That was behind me. It was a day of prosperity, and I embraced it fully. I was happy.
On Sunday night, knowing the seriousness of the medical situation I was facing, I could not sleep.
So, as lay in bed, I begin going over Psalm 23, memorizing it verse by verse.
I had memorized it years ago but had not gone back over it in an attempt to recommit it to memory in years. Then, as I lay in bed, and later as I sat in the doctor’s office I kept going over it in my mind and meditating on it and what each verse meant.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Maybe it was 50th time I had gone over it in my mind, I noticed something. In the first three verses when David is talking about the good times – the lying down in green pastures, walking beside quiet waters, the refreshing of his soul, and walking in righteousness – David speaks of the Lord in the third person.
But when David turns to the times of adversity, he refers to the Lord in the second person. When walking through a situation where death is such a possibility it casts a shadow on David’s life, he says, “You are with me . . . ,” “Your rod and staff, they comfort me . . . ,” “You prepare a table before me . . .,” and “You anoint my head with oil…”
On Monday morning when I was waiting for the doctor’s office to open to make an appointment before I suffered any permanent loss of vision, I spent time in prayer. As I was praying, I was drawn to Ecclesiastes, chapter 7.
As I started reading, verse 14 jumped off the page:
In the day of prosperity be happy, But in the day of adversity consider— God has made the one as well as the other So that man will not discover anything that will be after him.
As I began to dig into this verse, the contrast became conspicuous.
Solomon explains how one should react to the good days, the days of prosperity: “be happy.” When I was younger, I thrived on deferred gratification, whether it be working when others were playing, or saving when others were spending, telling myself I would enjoy the good days in the future. Age and experience has since taught me to embrace those now rare days youth offered so liberally. However, this was not one of those days.
Instead, the word for me was in what followed in verse 14: “but in the days of adversity consider . . . .” Our response to prosperity should be an emotional one–be happy, embrace it, enjoy it–but our response to adversity should be an intellectual one: consider. Think. Realize. Understand.
Today we celebrate Easter. It’s my favorite holiday of the year because of its significance.
It is the most attended church service of the year, which means that many people who do not usually attend church do so on Easter, which means that there are more people who don’t know Jesus at church on Easter than any other day of the year.
Christians, of course, celebrate Easter because the resurrection is the lynchpin of Christianity. As the Apostle Paul said, if Jesus is not resurrected from the dead, our faith is in vain, we are still in our sins, and we should be pitied not followed. I Corinthians 15:14-19. The resurrection proves Jesus was who he said he was and that we can trust Him to grant us eternal life.
But so often overlooked at Easter is what the resurrection means for Christians before they die. The Apostle Paul told the Roman Christians:
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
We can be assured we will be raised from the dead because the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in our mortal bodies. But if we believe the Holy Spirit can raise us from the dead, we must also believe that the same Holy Spirit can give us victory over sin in our mortal bodies. If we believe the Holy Spirit is powerful enough to overcome the result of sin, we must also believe He is powerful enough to overcome the reality of sin.
This week someone in the IT department of my law firm died. No details were provided regarding the cause of his death, but it appeared his death was not unexpected even though he was only a middle-aged man.
Attorneys in the firm responded to the email of his death by recounting stories of how he had helped them with their computer issues, and how he was always patient with them. That was about as personal as it got.
At first it seemed sad to me that the best we could do was talk about his IT support skills, but then I realized that was the only way we knew him.
I’m sure his family knew him more fully as a person because they related to him as a husband, father, son, or sibling, but they are only a handful of people. We are a law firm of 750. In short, at work he was known more widely but less fully. And that is the case with most of us.