I have found new solace in a reminder from Rick Warren's book The Purpose-Driven Life. He gives a quick summary of life by simply saying, "life is a test, a trust and a temporary assignment". Easy to say, easy to remember, easy to mentally grab when I'm at a loss for direction. Basic. Helpful. Anchoring. Comforting.
The "test" part is easy enough to see. For me, right now, the test is whether or not I will trust the God who has declared His love for me, even though I walk a dark valley. Or will I only trust Him on the sunny days, when the cupboards are full and the car doesn't break down? In my heart and in my will, after the loss of Joey, I've re-made a decision to trust His good character. I believe Him when He says all things will ultimately work together for good. I've released my expectations of what He has to do for me in this life. I'm counting on Him showing me someday, detail by detail, how He wove my sad story into a bigger, more beautiful story of redemption. I'm trusting Him to turn my water into wine.
The "trust" part of my purpose-driven life is a little more complicated. It means I've been entrusted to do something good with the bad in my life. I can trust God to do good with bad, but can He trust me? Can the people around me trust me? Will I show them a way through suffering and loss that's honest but also hopeful? Will my life story kill their faith and joy, or will it build it? Will I leave them unsure, unstable and doubting, or will my story reassure them that their faith in God can carry them through whatever losses and trials life brings them? That's where I live right now. I still have more questions than answers, but I know what I'm wishing for. I'm reaching for hope, for the sake of my grandchildren, and my daughters, and anyone else who may be watching me. That is the engine that gets me out of bed when the clock strikes 7 am and I start another day of living by faith in the midst of crucial, unyielding disappointment.
The fact that life is a temporary assignment helps. That's the most comforting part of Warren's three-part equation. I couldn't live with an eternity of loss and grief, but I can live with a season of it. God was indeed merciful to make the average human lifespan short enough that we could get to the end of it, make the cross over, and then, after all that, find everything we'd ever been longing for on the other side of it. (Need I mention that this only inspires gratitude when it's not your child whose lifespan is short?)
I am thankful for the statistical brevity of my own numbered days. I feel I can make the journey. However difficult my days are here, I am certain there's something so very good waiting for me on the other side, and that gives me strength to bear the burdens of this life. In this moment, my work is unfinished. There are tasks and lessons and people with which I have been entrusted. I don't have a big, impressive plan, (wish I did) but I do want to sort it out and live the truth and give it my best. I do want to finish well.
And so, I push forward.
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.