I am by nature a very sentimental person who is always looking for the meaning behind things. Sometimes I hate this about myself because as I get older I'm realizing that there are many things that are just unexplainable and I won't be able to make sense of a lot of the things that happen in life.

Today is the one year anniversary of my dad having emergency brain surgery. I remember driving through the night to get to the hospital and pulling over on the interstate to pray at 7:00 a.m., the time when his surgery was scheduled. We all cried in that moment, knowing that we may never get to see him again. I remember sitting in the back of the car, too weak and sick from throwing up all night, while everyone else went into the hospital to wait for news and be there when he woke up. My pastor's wife sat in the car with me until my grandmother arrived to take me to her house. Nana drove and Grandbud put me in the front seat so maybe I wouldn't get sick again. I still threw up, though, and Nana looked at me with that unconditional-love look that only Nanas have. Once we got there she gave me saltines and ice chips and offered to clean up everything I'd made a mess of, but I didn't want her to have to do that. I texted my siblings to ask how Dad was doing, asking them to tell him how sorry I was that I couldn't be there, feeling guilty and worried that I wouldn't get a goodbye. I don't think he even knew, of course, that I wasn't there. In the afternoon they came to Nana's to try to sleep (we'd all been awake for a few days at that point), and Chris hugged me while I said something like, "I can't believe this is happening." There wasn't much else to say.

It's funny what you remember from days like that. Perhaps things are not remembered as they actually were. I don't know. It seems impossible to know how to handle situations like that mentally. I look back and don't think I handled it very well, but what could I have changed? I don't know that, either.

Today we can rejoice instead of mourn. We are in a cabin in the mountains with friends this week for a consistory retreat. We were all remembering the ordeal throughout the day yesterday. I looked over at my friends and told them something that had hit me: if Dad hadn't made it, they probably would have still come on this trip, but we wouldn't be with them. Yet here we are - on a literal mountain top! We could be sitting at home today still wading through thick grief, and yet we are enjoying life in a way that feels so presumptuous if I don't stop and remember what could have been.

There are more hard anniversaries in the next few months. I dread them because of the thoughts and feelings I know they will unearth and the healing wounds that will reopen if just a little. But, God has gotten me through the hardest days of my life, and I know He will get me through them all. I have realized more than ever this year that we suffer in our minds as much or more than we actually suffer in real life. The what-ifs can hurt just as much as reality. The worry can eat away at you more than a physical illness, or to the point of giving you a physical illness. I'm thankful that His strength is made perfect in weakness; physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual weakness.

Thanks be to God for getting us through the hardest days of our lives, and for bringing us through to the other side, whether the other side is a happy ending like Dad's survival and recovery, or getting to heaven and finally seeing and rejoicing in our Savior where there is no more grief.

He is the healer of all aches and pains, of brain bleeds and broken hearts. I want these anniversaries, both happy and sad ones, to be reminders of the Lord's sovereignty. None of us could have known what would transpire last August and the months to follow, and likewise, we can't possibly know what He will do in the future.

But we know that He will never forsake the righteous. These are words I have told myself over and over this year. He will not forsake us when death is knocking, when dreams are shattered, or when the anniversary of a hard thing feels like the last blow that will knock you down for good.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains -
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
The Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip -
He who watches over you will not slumber;
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you -
The Lord is your shade at your right hand;
The sun will not harm you by day,
Nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm -
He will watch over your life;
The Lord will watch over your coming and going
Both now and forever more.

Psalm 121