again I will say, rejoice.
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.
The Lord is at hand.
v. 4 "Rejoice in the Lord…" Not exactly me. Yes, I generally attempt to start my day that way, but then…but then… but now… the day comes crashing in, with all of its spectrum-y intensity and unpredictability, with someone else's depressed irritability and a thousand expectations from within and without, and rejoicing fades, like fresh dew, evaporated by nine o'clock on a July day. I lose track of joy, and of course, "always" disappear, too. Never mind, "again I will say, rejoice." Because I don't. I don't rejoice, I don't say it again, and "repeat" seems out of the question.
Looking up word meanings in my Key Word Study Bible only makes me feel worse: rejoice – chairo – a primary verb, to be "cheer" ful, i.e. calmly happy or well off, to rejoice, be glad.
I swallow deeply, sigh. My shoulders droop. Well, that's how I'd like to be, that should count for something, but does it? I'm not really sure. And then there's verse 5.
I'd stand a better chance if these all-inclusive words weren't so…well…all-inclusive. Words like always. If there was an exemption clause for, say, early mornings or 4-6pm daily. And everyone?? Really? So, family too, right? Bummer. Key Word clarifications slip into my backpack guilt burden like so many rocks – "appropriate, mild, gentle, patient."
I am bent, kneeling, weighed down by the weight of all I am not. (How is that possible? I pause to ponder, the heaviness of not…) I am flattened, and the dust of daily life blinds my eyes. I grope toward hope.
v.5b "The Lord is at hand."(esv) Near. Wait, what? "The Lord is near, literal or figurative, of place or time…at hand, near, nigh at hand, ready, close." These words feel comforting, hopeful, a cause for rejoicing, even?! He is close here, now?!? I had always thought this nearness was sort of dangerous, risky, you know - you better be reasonable, gentle, mild, patient –because God is near and He's watching and He will nail you when (not if) you stumble. How is it that I can see it more clearly just now when I am blind, at ground level, hands scrambling for something, someone? And there He is. Nailed. For me. Reaching toward me. He is near, here, at hand, ready. Ready to grasp the seeking hand. Close. Close enough to touch my dirt smeared face, to wipe my tears, to hear my sobs. I would be content, relieved, willing to settle for this reality - the Lord nearby, walking with me through my days, the Lord at hand in every way that is good. Not present to judge, to condemn, to find fault, but His Presence in my present, whatever this moment looks like.
But He is not finished, not nearly finished. He is not merely close by, present, journeying with me. He invites me to hand over, heave onto Him the burden weight that overwhelms my backpack. I reach toward these words and find I'm clasping a thin thread of hope:
Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you (esv)…
And He still isn't finished. He will lift those rocks, those heavy burdens, one by one by one, he will take those failings and sins and inabilities, and He will make out of them the boundaries of my life, the foundation on which He wants me to build. He does not discard them, useless, on a pile somewhere, or scatter them where someone else might stumble over them. Carefully, gently, with strong and wounded hands, he lifts those rocks and places them just so, here, there. And those burdens become the framework from which I can grow into the one whom I will become in Him.