Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights . . .

James 1:17

Some anniversaries you celebrate—the day of a birth (or perhaps a new birth), the day you were married, the day you graduated or any number of reasons your heart is full of memories and gratitude.  These are the days you celebrate a blessing from God.

But other anniversaries you endure. 

These are days full of more heartache than laughter.  The yearly reminder of a diagnosis, a divorce, a failure, or the death of someone you love.  You know the day is coming and there is simply no avoiding it.  At first you dread it, even fear it for the memories that might be dredged up.  The sadness that has finally started to recede just a bit.  Will this take you back to the beginning of your grief or merely to the edge of it?

One year ago I stood by Dad’s bed, with my brother on the other side, and together we sang our pain-ridden father into an eternity with Jesus.

And while a cold rain hits the window, I find myself wondering what stories we’ll tell as the family gathers at my house in a few hours. I’m sure there will be some tears, but laughter too on this anniversary. And worship. Definitely worship.

Are we in denial of our loss?  I don’t think so. Our sadness has always been tempered with a hope of where Dad now is (and where we will one day meet him again).  But it’s also a hope for the “right now,” not just the “someday.”

Go back to the rest or that verse from James: Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

God does not change like shifting shadows or shocking circumstances or my unpredictable emotions.  In this I will hope—right now.  He keeps showing up and He keeps reminding me of his goodness and faithfulness along the way.  If I look around the table tonight, I’ll see plenty of those reminders.

There will sit my wife, Robin.  A gift from God if ever there was one.  And today as we remember the loss of Dad together, we’ll also thank God specifically for this extraordinary woman.

You see, November 23 is also the anniversary of her birth.  And that means I can (and will) celebrate.  God is so generous and faithful that I must.  The blessings will continue, I just have to notice them.  It’s not just that life goes on, it’s that life will always be a gift from this giver of good gifts.

And always the reminders.

At some point tonight that beautiful woman will be holding another gift of life—the daughter of my daughter.  The dreams wrapped up in that little one who never met her great-grandfather are staggering.  God is still up to something in this world.  And we get to be a part of it.

And so it goes…Life. Blessings. Gifts from the Father who does not change. Memories. Dreams. Prayers. And hope, always hope, for this is how we followers of Jesus live.

There are anniversaries you celebrate and some you endure, at least at first.  But by his grace you may again notice the faithfulness of God which always shows up. Always.

That’s when you find yourself celebrating in muted tones.  Even on those days.

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