I sat perched on the urgent care, examination table.
I was desperate for relief. Stabbing with pulsing, unrelenting pain, I could barely swallow. I knew I had a severe case of strep throat and it couldn’t have attacked me at a worse time. For that very evening, I was readying myself for John’s and my wedding rehearsal at the Lewis and Clark University Chapel in Portland, Oregon. The following day, March 14, 1998, John and I would say our vows before our precious family and dear, dear, dear friends.
Yet, here I sat. Miserable. Hardly functioning.
I could not be sick; really, really, sick. Not right now.
I hoarsely croacked my dilemma to the urgent care doctor. He said, “Well, there’s only one thing for this situation. You need an injection of penicillin to address your symptoms and provide immediate relief. It isn’t cheap, but it is effective.”
The doctor cautioned that the shot would be painful.
There was no other choice, though. The next few days needed me to be at my best. I gritted my teeth and took the shot of Bicillin (the injectible form of penicillin) and prayed its medicine would work as promised.
Although still a bit weak as our wedding festivities began, my throat dramatically improved. I could talk again. I could swallow. And I could enjoy our fun, easy-going rehearsal among our family and friends.
As I remember that crazy start of a day – sitting with my sore, painful throat – to ending the night so delightfully better and so wondrously happy as I anticipated our wedding day, I can’t help but think how it was indeed, a rehearsal of good, to John’s and my 20-year marriage.
We are all aware that a rehearsal is an act of preparation. It’s a recital. It’s a purposeful endeavor to ready oneself for some kind of performance – a play, a concert, a speech, a wedding – and in truth, a life. For John and me, along with our wedding party, we made ourselves ready for John’s and my wedding ceremony the following day.
But what is a rehearsal of good?
This act of preparation requires strength of mind, courage, and a resilient spirit. Rehearsing the good is the willful determination to celebrate and embrace the people, the places, the things in life that are our blessings – even in the midst of hardship, even in the center of frustration, even in suffering and woe, or even while enduring struggle and resistance. Life is not one long picnic in the park. Nor is it one never-ending, glorious and uplifting wedding day.
Oh, that it could be…. but alas, this world is besieged by trouble and adversity and pain.
John’s and my 20-year marriage has been captivated by joy. Truly. John makes me laugh like no other person on the planet. Yet, we have also endured the struggle of things far more serious than sore throats as we contended with Caleb’s hemangioma birth defect and subsequent surgeries, John’s ankle surgery and recovery, John’s precarious career in the aluminum industry, my breast cancer scare in 2012, Jake and Caleb’s autism and their related needs, homeschooling, the many deaths of family members while we’ve been overseas, and our ongoing-never-a-dull-moment mission story. My husband, John – my fun-loving, passionate, can-do, loyal and true, handsome, discerning, wise, affirming and thoughtful partner in life – has helped me rehearse the good throughout our 20-year marriage.
We’re asked to look for the good – even when our hearts and the events of this world tell us otherwise.
Where does this good come from?
From our loving and compassionate Father of course. He is the One who compels John and me, along with our children, to keep rehearsing the goodness of the Lord in our lives – in both times of joy and in times of pain – even when life makes no sense. We keep looking for and rehearsing the good we have in each other – right now.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
New International Version, Psalm 118: 1
In rehearsing the good, we thank our God for His love and the love we have for one another. There is no better person for me to share my life, than my John. How grateful I am for his enduring love of me.
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
New International Version, Lamentations 3:25
In rehearsing the good, we appreciate and count upon the secure hope we have in Christ – especially when things happen in this world that make little sense and provide no solace. How grateful we are to look to Christ and experience His mercy and grace.
The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,
New International Version, Nahum 1:7
In rehearsing the good, John and I have found, and perhaps you have too, that our faithful God understands the depth of our pain and sorrow. He is present to nurture and care for us. We need His love and protection in our most vulnerable times – I especially appreciate that being so far away from friends and family who know us best.
In rehearsing the good, John and I have experienced the grace of Christ through His redemptive work in us. And because of Christ’s transformational work in our lives, we’ve been able to offer Christ’s hope, love, encouragement and care to others in countless ways. We have been able to share that even in loss, even in failure, even in tragedy, and even in pain, our God can restore and redeem them as He has done for us.
In rehearsing the good, we recount where we have experienced the Lord’s constant and enduring care – especially when our hearts have broken and we have no words. No words at all.
In rehearsing the good, I see every day, the blessing and gift I have in my husband, John. Who even today, took me in his arms and let me cry and cry and cry as I mourned the loss of my cousin from a tragic, catastrophic mountain climbing event in Alaska.
When I married my husband, John, 20 years ago, as I was recovering from a terrible sore, sore, sore throat, I chose to rehearse the good that was to come. I couldn’t wait to marry my husband and share my life with him.
Here we are, twenty years hence, and we are still rehearsing.