First, my daughter entered the hospital to have her first child, our sixth grandchild. Then we learned that things were not progressing well, and the doctors had decided to induce the delivery, which they did. Things still did not go as expected, and the doctors began talking about the possibilities of having to do a C-section. But then came word that the pace had picked up considerably, culminating in a safe natural birth, and baby and mother were doing well.
Second, we got word that our good neighbors’ father/father-in-law, who was in Kentucky for his own grandchild’s birth, had a heart attack and had to return to his home in Canada to undergo an angiogram and possibly further steps (stents or bypass surgery). Then came word that he had come through the procedure requiring only one stent and with only minor heart damage.
Third, we learned that the fires in the East Tennessee mountains had forced the closure of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Then the fires entered the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge area, forcing evacuations there. That entire area holds precious memories for me because I grew up in Knoxville and spent many nights camping and days playing in Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge. Similarly, our children camped and shopped and played in the area.
Then came word this morning that the Park Vista Hotel and Conference Center, a tall, round structure overlooking even Gatlinburg’s tall Space Needle, was on fire. Thirty or forty structures (reports are conflicting) are burning or have burned. The Park Vista was where the Tennessee Association of Christian Schools (TACS) holds its annual teachers convention and where I presented several workshops for the TACS. My brother-in-law is a big wheel in the management of the Space Needle, so his place of employment is at risk. The fires have forced the evacuation of Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg. Fires are even approaching the largest and most famous entertainment venue in the area, Dollywood in Pigeon Forge.
But I got up this morning to a sound that has long gone unheard in the Upstate of South Carolina–rain coming down on the roofs and trees and fallen leaves and parched ground! We have been in a severe drought here in the Upstate since the summer. We were more than 12 inches below normal for rainfall as of yesterday. We had had 121 straight days without as much as half an inch of rain, but we got just under half an inch overnight, and it’s still coming down gently. I felt like running around in the morning-darkness rain like Gene Kelly and belting out “Singin’ In the Rain.” (But I refrained out of respect for my neighbors.)
Maybe the rains will continue in the mountains. And maybe the winds, which had been gusting in Gatlinburg to 70 mph, will subside. Maybe the fires will be quenched and brought under control.
Joy, sadness, fear, hope. All of these emotions in such a short time! That’s how life is. Sometimes we get into a rut, running along from day to day with the same emotions and attitudes. And then things are suddenly set into motion, events that are out of our control. Out-of-state births, life-threatening health issues, natural disasters, fears of the unknown. But there also comes hope.
Those who know the Savior, Jesus Christ, can rest in this assurance: He knows and cares for His own. He is sovereign, in control of every little–and big–detail. He knows the end from the beginning. With Him, there are no mistakes, no accidents. Nothing gets out of His control. Nothing is too big for Him to handle. He sends the rain on the just and the unjust. But He holds in store a special blessing for His own children. He does all things right and well. And He does it for our good and His glory.
Maybe that’s why the psalmist pleaded, “Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness” (Psa. 107:8). (He repeated the same plea in verses 15, 21, and 31 of that psalm.) And then he concluded by declaring, “Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord.”
So whether we are experiencing joy, sadness, fear, or hope, we should praise the Lord, Who is in charge of all the events of our lives. By such praising comes peace.