Birthdays are supposed to be great. They’re supposed to be the days when all your wishes come true. But sometimes, well sometimes they just suck.
Our family took a once in a lifetime kind of vacation this summer. On one of the last days, my husband was scrolling through his Facebook feed and said, “Oh hey-it’s my birthday.”
This was news to both of us. Not the most auspicious beginning.
The morning was decent-a long walk around the insanely cool, old neighborhood where we were staying, some quiet reading time. Then we set off for London. It kind of went downhill from there.
We couldn’t find anywhere to eat. We had to keep stopping for the bathroom. Since my husband was the only one registered for the rental car, he had to do all the driving and for crying out loud that country’s not made for driving high speeds. Or two lanes at the same time. Plus, left side. And stick shift. I think we all lost years off our lives navigating those roads. Thank God for a diesel engine because where are the gas stations? Four plus hours of this.
But we had something to look forward to-seeing the new Spiderman movie at a cool old theater (can we just assume everything I’m talking about is cool and old? This includes my husband, wink). And then . . .
We couldn’t find parking, because no one actually drives in London. Or rather, they drive but seemingly never park. We finally found a space, begged a parking permit off a local, and made our way to the theater where we discovered we had shown up for a 6:30 showing that was actually at 7:30. Dejected, we headed back to our hostel, which was seemingly 4 miles away yet took us 30 minutes to drive.
So, dinner. Dinner at-say it with me-a cool, old pub. But we got a late start and most everything in the little town center near us was closed. We found a place called the Snooty Fox which sounded oh so promising. Ah, but no children under 18. They directed us to a restaurant 10 minutes away. It closed at 9. It was 8:50.
Ready to throw in the towel, we found a mini mart where two of us grabbed snacks to eat. In the end, the others got burgers and fries from a sketchy looking pizza joint. And thus ended the lame birthday.
Yep, sometimes your birthday sucks. Sometimes you have the highest expectations for the perfect day and it’s anything but. It rains on your wedding day. It’s 100 degrees at Disney World. You drive 2 hours to take beautiful beach pictures and it’s actually super windy and cold (this may or may not be a true story).
And you’d think we would be ok with that, but there’s something bred into us, woven into the great American dream that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” means things SHOULD go our way. It’s our right. Especially on our birthdays.
But the passage that came to mind for me as we tramped from place to place was Habakkuk 3:17-18, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, YET I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”There is always a “yet” when we have God.
There is always a reason to give thanks, a reason to praise. Because no matter what happens or doesn’t happen, He is still on the throne. Yet, He is good. Yet, He is faithful. Yet, He is with us.
So I try to insert our own circumstances to remind myself, “Though we missed the movie, and the pub wouldn’t let us in, though we spent half the day driving and had to eat mini mart food . . . Yet I will rejoice.”
Because we still have something that is above and beyond all these worldly hopes. Better than a day at the beach. Better than the happiest place on earth. Better than the best birthday.
We have a life that can’t be taken away by the worst circumstances. We have hope beyond this world. We have freedom and grace. We have joy and peace.
So there’s always a “yet” we can claim. Yet He can do more. Yet He can redeem. Yet He can work. Yet we can rejoice.
The list goes one. We can choose to claim it, even on the worst days.