My little buddy, Riley, swallowed a rock. It wasn’t a big rock, you understand – maybe the size of a small jagged marble – but he was just a little boy. Not quite three. Three days later when the rock hadn’t appeared they decided an X-ray might be timely. Especially since dad is head of the radiology department at our local hospital. Sure enough, there it was, in all its splendor, processing nicely through Riley’s GI tract.
But the tech who read the X-ray also detected something they had not anticipated. Close examination revealed a tumor on Riley’s left kidney…the size of a softball. I’ve seen the pictures. There had been no symptoms, no pain, no reason to suspect a huge tumor in the abdomen of a three-year old. Three days later the surgeon removed the malignant intruder and the kidney, and Riley began a three-month saga of chemotherapy.
Fast forward six years. Riley is 9 now. (That’s his photo at the top.) Healthy. High energy. Fastest feet in his class. But here’s the backstory. The surgeon asked dad how they had discovered the tumor. When he heard the story his comment was, “Riley wouldn’t be alive had it not been for the rock.” So Riley and his family and all of us who know them, looking back, praise God for Riley’s rock.
Our God says, “In all things give thanks.” When the story ends and we see the outcome we can smile. But while the story is in progress and we can’t see the end and still we trust Him, that’s when we can praise the Lord…anyway.
That’s why when God’s people come together to worship they follow the admonition to “…enter his gates with thanksgiving… come before Him with joyful songs, for…His faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Ps. 100) The grandest demonstration of trust is to smile even before we know the reason for the rock.
Commenting on the psalms, the oldest hymn book in history, my friend Mark Batterson reminds us, “…the greatest of psalms came out of the worst circumstances… David is walking through the valley of the shadow of death. David is agonizing over his adulterous affair with Bathsheba. David is a fugitive hiding out in the cave of Adullam…those circumstances produced the profound lyrics we find in Psalm 23, Psalm 51, and Psalm 142.
Few have suffered as did Job, yet even he could say, “Though He slay me yet will I trust Him.” In other words, “I will praise the Lord in all circumstances, even when I don’t understand.”