Today was the day that life returned to ‘normal.’ The festive season is over, our daughter returned to University, our son to school and my wife will return to choir practice tonight. So the alarm went off at 7am and they were out the door by 8am and if the first few days of normalcy feel hard and don’t feel normal then they soon will. To tell the truth, it’s something of a relief for family life to get back to a degree of predictability and allow the body clock to sort itself out.
The trouble with ‘normal’ is that…well, it’s normal. It can be boring. We can lose the sense of the wonder of life, or the joy of surprise. But sometimes in the middle of normal we get the phone call or experience the event that takes us way out of its comfort zone. That happened to us one normal Sunday night in 2005 when the phone rang and we were told that my father had died. Suddenly ‘normal’ had gone and a new ‘normal’ would have to be created.
Over the course of the last few weeks we’ve had to adapt to a new normal, and there will be times in 2012 when it changes again – after the summer we expect both our kids to be students away from home and that new normal will take some getting used to. (As I was writing this, another unconditional offer came in for our son, so, God willing, this normal should come to pass.)
One of the most astounding passages in the Bible is to be found in a book with the haunting title of Lamentations – its name expresses its nature, reflecting on the horrific experience of the citizens of Jerusalem as the city was captured and razed by the Babylonians. Amid this catastrophic derailing of ‘normal’ we find these words:
22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!” (Lamentations 3:22-24, NLT)
Those who remained in Jerusalem and those who were exiled took a while to make the words of the prophet their own – not surprising really, because hard questions had to be asked and answered. Jewish people had to do the same after the Holocaust. But how astounding an insight it was for this person who had experienced such devastation to realise that within each new day there is a demonstration of the love and faithfulness of God.
There will be times when we don’t feel that – indeed when we feel just the opposite. But we cannot live without hope, so where will we find it? It is my fondest desire that in good times and bad I will have the faith and courage of this writer to find my hope in the Lord for whom love and faithfulness are normal.