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Just dropping by ... Let us rejoice

Yevet Tenney for Progressive Dairyman Published on 24 November 2017

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.
—Philippians 4:4

Lately, I have been puzzled at the commandment the Lord gives us to rejoice. What does it really mean? How is it different from gratitude?

If you dissect the word, you can find the prefix “re-,” which means to do something over, but of course it really isn’t a prefix because a root word does not follow – unless you spell joy with an “i” instead of a “y.” Maybe there is a part of rejoicing that means you are to find joy over and over again.

Sometimes that is difficult to do because we, as human beings, are creatures of habit who robotically repeat actions and thoughts without really feeling or giving them new meaning. If the “re-” in rejoicing is used as a prefix, then the Lord wants us to find new joy in old circumstances, but I think it is even more complex than that.

To rejoice has to mean more than simple gratitude, or Paul would have said, “Be thankful.” Susan C. Young said, “Rejoicing is grounded in gratitude, with a keen appreciation for yourself, others, your abundance and the beauty around you.” Rejoicing is gratitude – but deeper.

Emeasoba George made the concept of rejoicing clearer. He said as he related rejoicing to gratitude, “An attitude of gratitude is all about being grateful for all things irrespective of whether you are comfortable or not, favorable or not, or satisfied or not. It is equally being happy every day regardless of your state of health condition or financial capacity status.”

My father passed away on Oct. 10, and I think I have felt for the first time what it really means to rejoice. From Sept. 21, when hospice was called in, I felt a tangle of emotions. I felt sorrow at the possibility of not having him with us anymore, and worry for my mother, who would miss him terribly.

I saw him go from completely self-reliant to not even being able to turn himself over in bed. Many times I prayed for his passing, not because I wanted him to go but because he was suffering so. Mother could see his suffering and knew his time was short. As I sat with her, I said, “Mother, have you told him it is OK to go?”

I felt he was lingering because he worried for her. She said, “I told him he can go.” It wasn’t five minutes after that we stood by his side as he passed away. He was waiting for her to let him go. He was always concerned for her welfare. After 75 years of married life, they truly had become one.

Emotions, sorrow and gratitude, flooded my heart. He was gone, and we would miss him terribly, but his suffering was over. I comforted Mother and began to make phone calls.

The feeling of gratitude mingled with sorrow never left in the midst of preparation for his funeral. My husband made his casket of pine and redwood with decorative wood and molded designs. My niece painted a saw blade to reminisce his occupation, and my sisters quilted a satin lining for the casket. Finished, it was a work of art and tribute to a man we loved so much.

True rejoicing filled my heart as I wrote his life sketch to be read at the funeral. His life was a monument of service and compassion. I found joy again and again at the wonderful life he led. He was a World War II veteran who served his country with honor and pride. At the graveside, the guns blasted, taps were played and a flag presented to my mother.

The casket was lowered into the grave by 16 grandsons and great-grandsons. I rejoiced over the legacy my father left in the lives of those stalwart young men.

My mother and father raised six children, Margaret, Chester, Claudia, Yevet, Bobby and Mary Jane, who grew up to honor and carry on the Crandell name and legacy. Among their posterity are adopted children and stepchildren, but they were never treated as such.

They were Crandells no matter the background or circumstance. Toni Tenney Jackson posted this on Facebook about my dad:

“I love this man. This man took me and treated me like one of his own. He didn’t coddle me but taught me how families work together. He showed me that when life beats you up and down, you work. You don’t give up. He showed me what real quiet strength is.

Mighty in mind and body but showed that through his actions. He showed me it doesn’t matter if you’re a girl or boy ... we do all the work together. I loved watching him can and brand. This man stood the high moral ground in time of war and peace. He earned the respect of anyone who was honored to cross his path.

Given the nickname “Deacon” by his fellow soldiers, he was the man. I would like to say he ... “liked it when we called him Big Papa”... but he wouldn’t get it. No tears Papa. So excited to honor you with my beloved Crandell family whom I feel will raise the roof with your wonderful legacy you left. YOU make me Army proud. Please be my guardian angel.”

My parents have 70 grandchildren, 129 great-grandchildren, 10 great-great-grandchildren and more on the way. What a wonderful legacy to leave behind.

I wrote a poem that exemplifies the kind of man my father was, and I rejoice to have been raised by him. There are not many men in the world who truly walk as true Christians and take their responsibility of a father as a sacred calling from God, but I rejoice again and again to know my father was that kind of man.

The Hands of the Savior

He was the hands of the Savior
For nearly a hundred years.
His heart was the heart of the Savior
As he gave to his fellow men.
He was the ride to many a weary traveler

Who walked on life’s dusty roads.
He lifted, he helped, he built for anyone in need.
His first thought was for his family
His last thought was for his family
And all his thoughts in between.

For seventy-five years he loved with the love
Of the Savior as he blessed his loving wife.

He never lost sight of her comfort
Even when it came to the end.

He learned the words of the Savior
And shared them far and wide.
He opened many blind hearts with the wisdom

He gained from fervent prayer.

In time of war, he selflessly gave to his country
His heart, his hand and his life.
Through the mercy of Heaven, he returned to honor
America’s glory with the living and not in death.

He opened the prison doors to thousands as he worked in God’s holy house.
He cheered and blessed and comforted
even in his greatest pain.

Today, he answered the call of the Savior
To return to his loving arms.
The world has lost a great hero, but Heaven has gained
A Celestial being whose light will shine forever
In the courts of his Heavenly home.

We love you Daddy,
Yevet Tenney

I am not sure I still understand the full definition of rejoicing, or how to keep the attitude of rejoicing or even an attitude of gratitude alive, but I have felt to rejoice over and over again during this time of sublime joy and heart-wrenching sorrow. Paul’s epistle to the Philippians has taken on new meaning:

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
—Philippians 4:4-7

The peace God will give us, as we learn to rejoice in His wisdom through prayer and thanksgiving, will surpass all understanding. We will not be able to explain how we feel, or define the words that have such depth of meaning, but we will know and trust God is in charge no matter what our circumstances, and we will find joy in whatever comes our way.  end mark

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