by Robyn Ferradas
The idea for this month’s sign came to me easily: I heard the words spoken by the worship pastor at my church. REJOICE IS A CHOICE. Can I share a bit of his story, and his precious wife, Tina, with you?
My friend Tina went to be with the Lord a little over four years ago. Tina was an incredible woman – a Christ-follower, an amazing cook, an incredible crafter, a cancer survivor, a fierce lover of her family, a devoted wife, and one of the most honest and authentic hearts I have ever known. I attended Bible study with Tina for many years, and was always encouraged by her honest words about motherhood, marriage, and just life in general. I remember her talking about how she had not accomplished anything “great” in life by the world’s standards, but that her greatest joy and legacy in life was that her adult children were amazing people. I remember her coming to Bible study each week with a huge tumbler of Diet Coke, and not caring one lick that it was 9:00 in the morning. And I’ll never forget Tina’s love for the beach, and honesty in saying, “This might sound bad, but if there’s no beach in heaven, I don’t want to go there!” And one of her favorite sayings was, “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.” Oh, Tina’s REALNESS was so refreshing. And I still make her hazelnut scone recipe, to this day!
But Tina got sick. Her body would not move properly. Her limbs stopped working. Her speech slurred to the point she could barely communicate. Test after test after test did not indicate what was wrong, and doctors were unable to diagnose her. And eventually Tina left this world for heaven, leaving behind her beloved husband, her amazing children and their spouses, her precious grandbabies, and hundreds of friends she impacted so deeply. Her memorial service stands out to me as one of the most powerful I’ve ever attended – because God was given all the glory, her family loved on each other in their grief, and her life was honored with joy and gratitude for who she was.
Fast-forward to a few Sundays ago at church, when her husband, our worship pastor, remembered Tina on her birthday. He shared his grief in losing his wife, but how God has taught him, through it all: REJOICE IS A CHOICE. Each day, he can wake up and choose to trust God, choose to live, and choose to rejoice. Like Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord, always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” And friends, this profoundly touched my heart. To commit your heart to rejoicing in the Lord, despite life’s most despairing of circumstances, seems almost impossible. But it can be done through the work on the Holy Spirit! And our worship pastor is a living example of this truth. How blessed I felt, to hear his truthful reminder. Sometimes in life, I look at other people walking through something difficult, and wonder, “How are they able to withstand this?” Yet, I know God gives each of us the grace and strength we need to make it, and can even bless us with JOY, in the midst of pain. Rejoice is a choice, and God is big enough to empower us to choose it.