Enjoy this devotional from FlourishWriters student Mandy Farmer
Tears streamed down my face as strangers forced my precious piano out the door and onto a removal truck. The piano was a dear friend giving me release from all the stresses of life. Dragged from parsonage to parsonage, it had been a true instrument of joy. But now, as the truck faded from view, the ballad of my life faded as in a big decrescendo.
“God, haven’t you taken enough from me already?”
My health was in shambles. I could no longer minister to the children at church. And now, my husband and I were leaving pastoral ministry completely, losing home and job. Forced into early retirement, we were doing a severe downsize of home and moving away from the town our children called home.
No song lingered in my heart; just an unrelenting ache—an emptiness. No joy. No hope.
God has got this, my head told my heart. He has something amazing in store. Don’t lose hope.
But my heart only felt the ache of loss.
I wondered if Naomi felt like this as she picked up her few belongings and returned to Bethlehem. She’d left her home to escape a famine with her husband and two sons. Now, she returned a widow and a grieving mother. Why her daughter-in-law Ruth stayed with her when she left Ruth’s home country of Moab, she did not know.
“Do not call me Naomi. Call me Mara for I am bitter,” she told everyone upon her return. Her story—and Ruth’s—is captured in the book of Ruth in the Old Testament.
The name Naomi means “pleasant one” or “beauty.” She saw none of that in her life now.
She had nothing to bring joy into her life. All was gone. She had no hope. She would have no grandchildren because her sons were gone.
Did she second-guess every decision she and Elimelech had ever made? Would she find the song in her heart again?
The same questions probed my mind as circumstances stripped every precious thing from our lives. The staggering losses became a chaotic dirge.
In our new place of residence, attending church lost its joy as we traded church leadership for pew seats. Nothing felt right. How could we find our song again?
Still, an occasional harmonious chord would surprise us.
Our children found their places on the worship team. I found smatterings of joy in hearing my daughter sing. Soon, a flame of romance flickered between my daughter and a young man on the worship team. They were perfect counterparts.
In their flourishing romance, my joy sparked, slowly filling my life once more through friendships, soon-to-be family, and worship.
During that dry period in which music seemed non-existent, God led me to blog. I wrote about my chronic pain, which led me to an entire community of Christian pain warriors. Writing grew into devotionals and devotionals into Bible studies. And now . . . a book.
Occasionally, the church asked me to play the piano. Oh, what joy! I could not practice much because I had no piano, but God had given me the gift of sight-reading music. I also found time to drop by the church occasionally to play piano while my husband had personal business in town.
Music began to permeate my heart again.
And then it happened.
My children had vowed that one day they would put a piano back in my home. Now, seven years later, they purchased a digital piano that would fit into our tiny apartment. What a joy it has been to run my fingers down the black and white keys and to sing, as the psalmist did, a new song in the night.
God has given me a new song.
I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the Lord.
(Psalm 40:1-3 NKJV)
And what of Naomi? God gave her a new song too! Through events God orchestrated, Ruth married and birthed Obed. Before she knew it, Naomi “took the baby and cuddled him to her breast and cared for him as if he were her own” (Ruth 4:16 NLT).
The music had never died—for neither Naomi nor me. It just went silent for a while. Perhaps the silence was intended so I could hear the Spirit speaking to me in new melodies.
Running through the sadness, the grief, the struggle had been a chord of joy.
God had never let go of me, even when I could not see him at work or hear him above the muddled mess.
Lord, thank you for never letting go of me. Even in my distress You hear my cry. I know I can trust you. Help me to hear the chord of joy running through the struggles I face. Thank you for giving me a new song of praise to You. May I never forget Your faithfulness. Amen!
Mandy is a farm girl turned pastor’s wife turned blogger/writer. She is passionate about music, children, and her Lord. She loves encouraging women through the storms of life. Mandy has suffered from chronic illnesses since 2011 but along the way has learned many lessons about trusting God fully.
She has written devotions for her church denomination, for her blog, and for an online women’s Bible study, www.gracefullytruthful.com. Recently, she published a children’s book and now has several more picture books in the works, along with a book of devotions for the chronically ill.