Veronica and Mitchell are here in Tupelo for their first-ever Eight Days of Hope. They live in Louisiana, and traveled here to work for several days helping repair homes and hearts. It was my treat to meet them on the first morning as we were preparing to get our assignments.
They lost a son a while back and were surrounded by the tender, loving ministrations of friends and family. Eyes glistening with blinked-back tears, Veronica said they had been thinking about a way to "give back" in response to the kindness of others demonstrated when their son died. One day, her husband heard an announcement about Eight Days of Hope on Christian radio. 8DOH would be working in Tupelo, where a tornado had caused tremendous destruction. When Veronica realized that the tornado occurred on April 28th, their son's birthday, she knew they were supposed to participate.
In a way, their giving is in memory of their son, but it is just as much in honor of those who helped so much during their own personal time of heartbreak. Now, this sweet couple is reaching out to others in their time of difficulty.
Much to my surprise, they were working on the same property where my little group was hauling dirt yesterday. As I watched them building a carport in the blazing Mississippi sunshine, I thought, "That's what healed looks like." They have reached past their grief to focus on the blessings received in the midst of that grief, and they are giving from the rich store God has given them.
There's something we need to learn from this sweet couple. They could have chosen to allow their grief to consume them. Instead, they have mourned their son, yet still reached out to others in a way that will make a difference for years to come. They have begun to understand the truth of Isaiah 61:3 in an intensely personal way.
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. (Isaiah 61:3 KJV)
In the dark nights of our own souls, we need to remember that what God has planned for those who mourn is beauty, joy, praise, and a reputation for righteousness. When you look at Veronica and Mitchell, that's exactly what you see.