The Black and Gold Exclamation Point

Last week was somewhat of a rough one for me. It started out in amazing fashion but slowly faded from there.

My youngest son and his family visited from Florida for the long, MLK weekend. We had an awesome time together, and on Monday (when I drove them to the airport) I could sense the making of a superb week.

“That was not to be, however.”

One of my long-time parishioners had passed away the previous Thursday. I knew I was staring at a viewing on Tuesday evening followed by a funeral on Wednesday morning. And though these things can be very difficult, we knew we would be able to celebrate the life of this saint. He lived to be ninety-two, and his legacy is a magnificent one. Despite the inevitable sadness and mourning, there’s always a certain amount of joy in the passing of wonderful people into the arms of God. Those events went quite well (from my perspective), so the rest of the week figured to be a cakewalk. That was not to be, however.

Thursday night, I went to bed with a bit of a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I didn’t think too much of it until I awoke at One A.M. fighting nausea. By three, I was in the bathroom (but I’ll spare you the gory details). Let’s just say, it wasn’t a pretty picture. Friday and Saturday, I was immobilized on the living room couch. I had been reduced to drinking sips of ginger ale and watching hours of inaugural and women’s march events. I couldn’t concentrate on anything with a plot.

The good news in all of this was that I didn’t have to preach on Sunday. We had an actor coming in from Pittsburgh who was doing a presentation during worship. The bad news was, he was also performing at a Coffee House for us on Saturday evening. I had been looking forward to that event for weeks. Much to my chagrin, however, I had to miss it.

By Sunday morning, I was feeling human enough to actually attend worship. I was getting to the place where I no longer felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck. I was still a bit weak but definitely on the mend.

“Mama said there’d be days like this.”

My last glimmer of hope for salvaging the week was the AFC Championship game between my beloved Steelers and the not-so-beloved Patriots. A Steeler victory would have made it all seem worthwhile. I guess the Pittsburgh Dad didn’t pray hard enough.

The devastating loss at the hands of quarterback Tom “The Machine” Brady put a black and gold exclamation point on my suffering. I think the appropriate saying for such an occasion is, “It added insult to injury.” Mama said there’d be days like this. I hate it when she’s right.

Fortunately, the Word of God is strong. The Psalmist once said, “weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) Apparently, that applies to bad weeks as well.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]

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