A few years ago, we invented a game called Thunderball. Okay, so it actually started as a game called Stickyball, and involved basketball hoops and a suction cup sticky ball that Christian brought home from school one day. It was a huge hit with our youth group students. And probably about the time that we lost the sticky ball, we replaced it with a volleyball and Thunderball was born.
I always explain it as this hybrid of basketball, volleyball and ultimate frisbee. There are teams and the goal is to pass the ball down the court till your team gets the ball through the hoop. It’s quite entertaining, adequately competitive and the bottom line is that it’s a lot of fun and we all love it.
A few years ago in January, we held a Thunderball Tournament. It came complete with a trophy and the ultimate prize of Team Pride.
It was pretty awesome, because I actually played on a team with Steven, Victoria and Michael that night. I remember this because I don’t have any pictures of Michael actually playing Thunderball because we were out on the court at the same time. I remember our team doing fairly well, and probably mostly because we had Michael. Steven and Victoria were our other power players.
Michael was always up for a good game of Thunderball, or whatever really. And today, as I was reflecting, I realized that some of our best times with Michael were times like these. We’d have a blast at low-key events playing made up games with the right amount of fun, heart and competition.
I got to drive up this morning to Stony Brook to see Michael. When I entered his room, his eyes were mostly open and so I talked to him and told him about the little and the big things going on and he responded ever so often with hand and arm movements and a bit more focused eye contact and tracking than what he’s done these past few days.
And I will admit. I love getting to see Michael make these little bits of progress each day. I love talking with Sally and doing my best to support and encourage her. Today, I even got to see Sarah briefly as she came up as I was about to leave (depending on the day, sometimes we miss her). And it always, always makes me smile to see her interact with Michael. She is focused and purposeful and I have this strong feeling that she is going to be key in Michael’s recovery. She’s an incredible big sister and you can always feel the strong love and support she has for her brother.
With all that being said, I did want to acknowledge something today that I don’t think I have yet in my writing about Michael and his journey to recovery. Most of the time, I am so hopeful and excited about how God is working in and through this situation. I focus on the positives and appreciate the little moments and accomplishments. But there are also times, that I feel so incredibly sad for all that Michael is going through. My heart just aches at times, because it’s so hard to see people that you love struggle. Sometimes, I cry a bit and then I cry out to God.
And you know what? He hears these cries.
And his response?
Psalm 34:18 puts it so beautifully. God is close to us when we are broken hearted. I truly believe that He feels our pain and that He hurts along side of us. The verse continues to share that God saves those of us who are crushed and burdened in our spirits. And tonight, this brings such comfort to know these truths.
It’s okay to hurt and to be sad when things are tough. But just remember that no matter what, you are not alone. God promises to draw near to us as we draw near to Him. There is nothing that God cannot handle. He loves you and He will be with you no matter what you are going through. And this is the truth that I will rest in tonight.
*Photo Credit goes again to the wonderful Sarah Einfeldt