“I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. For great is your steadfast love toward me…” (Psalm 86:12-13)
She raised her arms as high as she could lift them, her face turned upward as if she saw what was invisible to others in the room. For 87 years, this mother had managed burdens of all sizes, but nothing compared to what she was now asked to bear. Willingly she had comforted her ailing daughter, standing defensively by her side to combat the cancerous onslaught. Though her prayers had not been answered the way she desired, a bitter root had not taken hold. In the sanctuary on the Sunday after the funeral, she worshipped the Lord in the beautiful way a bride gazes at her groom.
A few weeks later, when we took a meal to a young couple’s home, their apartment was too quiet. When we eased the casserole onto counter top there were no baby bottles or blankets cluttering the space. Their perfectly formed son left them the very hour they first saw his precious face. No one had answers for the questions; no one had a remedy for their empty ache. We stared into their eyes and saw there a reflection of acceptance. Their peaceful demeanor and gentle words gripped us with the power of a thousand eloquent sermons. Surrender has a way of giving that startling appearance.
The psalmist echoes our deepest cry: “Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me” (Psalm 86:6-‐7). When faced with our own “day of trouble,” we cannot control the outcome, even though, like David, we ask the Lord to, “incline [his] ear…preserve my life…save [his] servant…be gracious to me…gladden my soul” (Psalm 86:1-4).
In the midst of those times, we too must run toward him like a child barreling into the safety of a father’s arms. Cloistered there, we are able to raise our hands in worship, even though they ache with the unknown and the ill-‐timed. And when we catch a brother or sister bringing glory to the Father’s name rather than shaking a defiant fist in his direction, let us mimic the Lord’s applause and say, “Well done. Your surrender is beauty’s highest form.”