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It must have happened somewhere in the middle of the night, and it seems like it should have made a noticeable sound. There were three of us sleeping close by in the condo at the time. But no one heard a thing!

It was yesterday morning. I walked into our bedroom closet, closed the door behind me, turned on the light, and was startled by what I found. The rack containing the bulk of Monica’s wardrobe had pulled itself from the wall and collapsed to the floor. I am not sure if my first thought was, “How did this happen?”, “How did we not hear it?”, or something completely different.

My first action was to relocate the clothes from the floor to three different closets in the condo. I guess we are sound sleepers. Monica never awoke through the entire process … and eventually experienced a start to her day that was similarly startling.

Now I know, catastrophe is much too strong of a word for what happened in our closet this week. Probably a term like mishap or misfortune would be better, though I also know that I need to take responsibility for what occurred – thus the term accident would not really be appropriate either. You see, just the evening before, I noticed that the weight the rack was holding (books in addition to clothing) was excessive, yet I did nothing about it. In other words, this “catastrophe” could have been prevented.

Merriam-Webster tells me that a catastrophe is “a momentous tragic event ranging from extreme misfortune to utter overthrow or ruin.” As I read this definition, I cannot help but wonder how many things we view as catastrophes in our lives could also be avoided – or at least minimized. My expectation is many, if not most.

Psalm 118 is one of my favorites, it starts with the words “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his faithful love endures forever.” (v. 1) In the following verses, however, we find phrases like “Out of my distress I called to the Lord” (v.5), “All nations surrounded me, … they surrounded me on every side … they surrounded me like bees; they went out like a fire among thorns” (v. 11-12), and “I was pushed back so hard, so that I was falling” (v. 13).

How can the psalmist say what he does in verse one despite all these personal “catastrophes” of which he speaks? His answer is simple and straight to the point. “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous: ‘The right hand of the Lord does valiantly’ … I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord. The Lord has disciplined me severely, but he has not given me over to death. Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.” (vv.14-19)

It would be easy for me to go on and on with other verses and illustrations, but I believe the point is clear. It all starts with a couple simple little questions: “How big is our God?” and “How much does he love us?” Then, as through his word he opens our eyes to see how he answers these questions, he also opens our lips every day to say, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. … You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.” (vv. 24-29) … no matter what kinds of things go bump in our nights or startle us during the day.

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