"My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
— Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)
My life was good and I was happy living and working in my small town for 30 years. I had two wonderful, grown children and was nearing retirement. Things were great until my wife suddenly came down with a terrible illness that she did not recover from, passing away after just three months of suffering. Suddenly my world changed drastically, and I was at a loss as to how to cope with it all. As anyone who has had such a loss knows, the days following the loss of a loved one are a whirlwind and there is much to be done. Life does not get back to normal anytime soon and one questions why things happen as they did.
My wife passed away in April which is significant in the fact that Spring is a time of rebirth — for nature primarily but also for all of us mentally and spiritually each year. My wife's death had a profound effect on all of us in our family, but it ultimately made us all stronger and better people. I learned not to take things for granted and to appreciate people and simple everyday things more. I learned that life is short, and we should make the most of every day and see it as a gift. Following my wife's death I began to volunteer at our local hospital, visit people I didn't even know in nursing homes, and became more active in church. I believe my son and daughter are stronger people than they would have otherwise been and are wonderful parents, trying to emulate the model their mother was for them.
I have become a more empathetic person too and more emotional. Each April my children and I honor my wife with some sort of intimate family gathering, keeping her spirit alive. Oftentimes it is nature oriented. It has now been 17 years since my wife's passing, but it still seems so very vivid in my memory. Tragedies can bring out the best in people whether it's events like 9/11, natural disasters, the COVID-19 pandemic, or the death of a loved one. Those events can trigger great love, sacrifice, and the best in all of us — sad as they are. God works in mysterious ways and is present with us for everything that happens to all of us — good or bad. Life is indeed a precious gift.
Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to accept whatever comes our way in life — the good along with the bad, and to make the most of each day given us. Amen.
Craig Chovanec (Wisconsin, USA)
"Thank you for the creative teams [of The Upper Room] who are working together to share the power of prayer around the world. You have collaborated with everyone working from our homes to share the gifts of hope, love, grace, and peace." (Written in response to The Upper Room COVID-19 response efforts). View Jaqui's video contribution to the initiative, helping us create space and time for God in these anxious times.