Try to guess what ails me.  You won’t see it because it is inside of me.  From outward appearances, I look good (if I do say so myself).  Yet I ache, all the time, from an injury that shattered my femur, the largest bone in the human body.  Surgery, a metal rod with screws, and a metal band put me together.  Four months of rehab and therapy bring me today—about 85% of my former self.  My final doctor visit tells me “this is as good as it is going to get.”  It is now a time of ongoing ache, back pain, and fatigue, as well as a little hitch in my step that those closest to me see, especially when I am tired.

This has been a year of lessons for me.  The first relates to what we cannot see.  I no longer look at people the same.  They may look just fine on the outside, but “you cannot tell a book by its cover.”  I have come in contact now with many people with hidden physical, emotional, or mental hurts in their lives.  Most simply go about life without complaint.  They might easily be judged by external appearances, but they carry burdens most would never want to bump into during life.  So, I have learned that most people carry hidden burdens which require my grace in how I might interact with them.

The second lesson I have learned deals with personal choices about my “lot in life.”  I could choose to be bitter, vindictive, a constant complainer to everyone who would listen.  But I have chosen to not talk about my situation, except on occasions with those who are close to me and understand my daily feelings.  Otherwise, you won’t know my internal aches, pains, and mental state that comes from being as “good as I am going to get” after this devastating accident.

I have chosen this because of my faith and in echo with the Apostle Paul “to be content in whatever state of being I find myself.”  I trust God daily for the strength I have and the situation I am in.  I know he was there with me at the moment of my accident, the surgery, the recovery, the long and distressing days of rehab, and now everyday—he knows my frame and I trust that by faith.  I choose to believe God’s good will ultimately prevails in what I experience each day.

Charles W. Naylor, a practical theologian out of my own faith tradition, wrote a book “The Secret of the Singing Heart.”  This book has been encouraging to me—and I think it might be to you also—in this new season of my life.  Naylor was injured in the prime of his career as an evangelist.  He was traveling around the country in the early part of the 1900s.  He was sought after for the power of his teaching and preaching.  Life couldn’t have been better.  But, he was injured in an accident that left him confined (I use that word literally of this period of time) for the next 41 years.  Yet, in time, he saw that he had a choice to make about life; he chose it to be one of optimism and living faithfully, even from a darkened room where he lay day after day.  He changed lives of those who came and sat with him.  He believed in life, goodness, and the present we all must encounter.

Naylor once wrote, “Long ago I determined to be happy.  I determined to be happy no matter what happened and no matter what condition I might be in or what my circumstances might be.”  What are the circumstances of your own life?  What choices are you making about them?  What prejudices and judgments might you make of others when you do not know their “lot in life?”  Fellow life pilgrims, I invite you to choose grace as we live with each other.  I invite you to extend grace to others when you encounter them who do not appear as you might want.  You will never guess the ailments of most people, but if we extend grace to them we might lift another human’s burden, even if it just be for a moment.  And I hope you, too, choose to live well in the circumstances you find in your own life.  Choose to live with joy at what is present with you.  Make the best of what is happening in your day today so that you might experience potentially brighter tomorrows.

Blessings for you this day. Grace and Peace.

David Neidert