Laughter in the Midst of Sorrow

Tuesday is for Nostalgia

Tooth Brush HolderAlmost every night, after or as I am brushing my teeth before bed, God refreshes my heart with laughter–or at least a chuckle. It’s funny how memory works. I’ll get to that in a minute.

The day draws to a close. Sometimes it has been filled with joy and others with sorrow. Sometimes it has lifted my spirit and other times it has left it as parched as the Saharan desert. The day may have been filled with drama or the mundane stuff that makes up the bulk of our lives. It might have been productive, or not. It might have included friends who loved well or no friends at all.

Some days I am left physically spent, other days the emotional onslaught of other people’s needs is nearly overwhelming. There may have been euphoric highs or complicated lows and I don’t think I’m necessarily talking about anything that isn’t common to almost anyone. These are not just a pastor’s experience. These are the human experience. 

But no matter how the day went, nearly every night, I brush my teeth and end the day with at least a chuckle. 

A warm glow-in-the-heart chuckle.

I brush my teeth. I rinse my mouth out with water and then it starts. Sometimes it starts when I see the water in my hand. Sometimes memory floods my heart as I fill my mouth with water with a simple cup of my hands under the faucet. 

My wife says I have bear paws for hands. I suppose they are big for a guy my size but a lot of guys can palm a basketball like I can. 

That isn’t what causes the smile, the chuckle, the joy that springs up and runs along the precipice of despair. Despair? Where did that come from?

Memory runs that fence line all the time–the line between the joy of pleasant recollection and the longing for a return to the simplicity of what can no longer be again.

For most of our early childhood raising years, Stephnie did the tooth brushing chore with the kids until they were old enough to do it themselves. I would pick up the more fun duty of kneeling at the kids bedside and praying with them before the lights went out and the two small-girl-treasures and one boy-treasure went searching for adventures in their dreams.

One night the roles were switched. I had bathroom duty and tooth-brushing duty with my son. So the routine started. Teeth were brushed. And now it was time to rinse. So I cupped my hand under the faucet and raised my hand to my son’s mouth who slurped and rinsed and then exclaimed, “Wow, your hand holds a lot more water than mom’s!”

The moment is imprinted on my heart. It never ceases to bring me joy. I remember sharing the episode with my bride and both of us having a laugh over the joy of having a son and two daughters. It was a moment of shared discovery with my son, now grown and married and not normally a part of my day to day schedule. 

I miss that.

I didn’t have anyplace I was going when I started this post. I just wanted to share a moment of fun and see where it took me. But now that I have told the story maybe I do have a point to make.

I resigned as the lead pastor of my church this past Sunday.

After I am gone I will miss Trinity Church and its quirky people (aren’t we all?). Probably, like missing my son more than he misses me, I will miss them more than they will miss me. But they will have a great future without me. Like my son, who is making his way in the world under the watchful eye of His heavenly Father, Trinity Church will carry on and God will raise up a new man to lead His flock.

God is good. He can be trusted. Tomorrow’s another day.

It’s time to brush my teeth. And chuckle.


5 thoughts on “Laughter in the Midst of Sorrow

  1. Pastor Marty, we will miss you a LOT !!!! at Trinity……. your friendliness, your concern and caring for all of us, and your Biblical teaching each Sunday will be missed !!!

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  2. Pastor Marty,

    You and Steph hold a very special place in mine and Pete’s heart and we will “never” forget you. Not only are we going to miss your awesome spirit-filled messages, but also our friendship.

    I can’t say I wasn’t angry and shocked by the news on Sunday, but as you have taught us through your Bible teachings we must be JOYFUL in all circumstances. And this is a circumstance I am “not” happy with, but I must trust and believe God has you, Steph, and Trinity in his hands and will not let go.

    For me, this is not goodbye, but see you again either here on earth or in Heaven and that is the Hope we have as believers in Christ.

    So, my friend, stand tall, chin up, and know you are LOVED!

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    1. Thanks, Barb. God is still on His throne. My friends at Trinity will always be my friends. And besides, I’m still going to be here preaching the word of God for another month. I look forward to that.

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  3. Thanks for sharing these thoughts. I am so thankful that God has taught us to look for the sweet in the bittersweet. ‘Tis (truly) so sweet to trust in Jesus. Our love to you and Stephnie. I’ve got a feeling that where God is taking you will be anything but mundane or ordinary, and for that I am excited for you.

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  4. To all who have expressed their disappointment in our leaving Trinity in your texts, and emails, and letters, cards, visits, and lobby conversations. Thank you. We are heart-broken but without fear. God can be trusted. The Trinity Church family’s future is the same as its past — trust God. Trust Him to work powerfully through the elder’s, and pastors, and through you as a congregation. Trust Him to land us in a good place from which we can continue to serve Him with all our strength. We love you.

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