He Made Me Smile

I will strengthen you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

I put my car in reverse to leave my best friend’s house as I do most weeks. Every time I look in the rearview mirror, I say out loud, “I am not sad. I am not sad. I am not sad.” Today was different, though. Her disease has progressed much more, and as I put the car in reverse I whimpered, “I am not sad, I am not sad.” But after pausing, I rephrased and said, “I am sad. God, I am sad.”

My lifelong, best friend was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, almost four years ago. I told myself I would be valiant for her. I would be strong and not sad. Gee, I wish it really worked that way because she asked me to do what I do (which is make her laugh), so, I concluded, I cannot be sad.

After expressing my sadness before the Lord, I drove down my friend’s street and took the same left turn I always take. As I reached the corner, I realized two cars ahead of me had slowed down because a sanitation truck was stopping at each driveway to collect the garbage from the neighborhood trash containers along the curbside.

As each car came to a stop, a gentleman monitoring the traffic would motion for the drivers to go around the truck. The car in front of me was motioned to move forward, and I inched up to where he would wave me on through. When it was my turn, he did something different. Something that caught me off guard. As I looked up for my hand signal, the worker took a bow and then waved his right hand across his body for me to move me along.

After I drove past him, I glanced in my rearview mirror to watch this kind gentleman. As I looked, I saw a face with a smile staring back at me. I said out loud, “I’m smiling. That man made me smile.” I decided I needed to drive back around and thank him. As I approached the garbage truck, they had pulled over at a curve in the road to collect the bags from the houses on the turn. I rolled my window down and called out, “Sir!” The gentleman who had bowed towards me to motion me along peeked around the truck. He walked towards me holding a garbage bag in his right hand. I said, “Sir, you made me smile. My lifelong best friend is very sick and lives around the corner.”

He responded, “Ma’am, I am so sorry.”

I then added, “I was leaving her house and I had just said out loud that I was so sad and you made me smile. Thank you.”

The gentleman responded, “To God be the glory.”

Without uttering another word, he turned around with his bag of trash and walked away.

My eyes began to fill with tears as Isaiah 41:10b came to mind: I will strengthen you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. I believe the Holy Spirit prompted this man to take a gentlemanly bow to remind me that God was upholding me. I also noticed that the man carried the trash bag in his right hand—another whisper from God. He holds me with His righteous right hand.

2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us that God’s grace is sufficient for us, and His power is perfected in our weakness. We are weak, but He is strong as the hymn proclaims (Jesus Loves Me, this I know). If we let Him, Christ will carry our burdens, our pain, and our sufferings so we don’t have to.

The gentleman’s bow also reminded me that in Christ Jesus, I am royalty. 1 Peter 2:9 says, But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

So, chins up, my sisters and brothers! We belong to Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

To God be the glory!

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