Originally published in faith anthology Women in High Def, authored and edited by Diane Markins.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)
Newlyweds Jeremy and Liz had just moved into a house on wide, tree-lined street. Sure, the house needed some handy-work. But they were thankful for their bed, for their roof, and for their nice new pots and pans they had received as a wedding gift.
That is, they were thankful until the kitchen sink stopped draining.
“I wonder what the problem is?” Liz asked Jeremy.
The water pooled in the sink and pieces of food floated on the surface of the water. She stopped using the sink for the day and asked Jeremy to pick up some Draino-Foamer on his way home from work. Surely the pipes would clear right away with that powerful stuff.
Jeremy got home and poured the liquid down the drain. They watched and waited—nothing happened. They went away for a bit to do something else and returned five minutes later—still nothing. They poured the rest of the liquid, the whole bottle, down every other drain in the house—still nothing changed. This couldn’t be good.
Jeremy decided to visit the cellar, to see if he could see anything wrong with the pipes. He walked down the stairs in the dark and reached to turn on the light, stepping onto the cellar floor as he did so. He felt wetness seeping into his shoes. He turned on the light. The floor was covered in two inches of sewage water. He tried to keep himself from gagging.
They called a plumber immediately. The next day, the plumber arrived to clean the pipes. And amazingly, he didn’t charge them full price for the job.
“If I were you,” he said, “I wouldn’t want to be hit with a bill like this all at once. Tell you what, I’ll clean out the kitchen pipes for free.”
Though Liz and Jeremy spent the rest of the next day hauling buckets full of water and sewage up the cellar stairs and to pour, once again, down the toilet, they rejoiced at the miracle that God had performed—a discounted pipe cleaning. They wore rubber gloves to keep the sloshing water from spilling onto their hands and bandanas around their faces to keep out the smell—it didn’t work. And they continued to work on being thankful.
Fortunately, the next day provided ample opportunity to continue practicing rejoicing in all things. Liz turned on sink in the bathroom to wash her face. She ran her hands under the water, to feel when the water warmed up. It didn’t. Their 1909 house had struck again, and this time, the water heater had broken.
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” Liz said. “God, I know I’m supposed to be thankful, but I’m having a hard time amidst all this chaos. Could you show us that you’re in control?”
Jeremy contacted the repair men. And they waited for a response. And they waited some more. Meanwhile, a whole week passed without hot water. Liz decided to take only sponge baths, washing her hair in the kitchen sink, while Jeremy tried to keep his showers very short—Liz knew when he was done by his yelping.
Finally, a little over a week from when the water heater had broken, the repair men came and installed a new water heater for them. Liz and Jeremy watched two men bear hug the heater between them, wondering the whole time if the balance would tip and they’d all go tumbling down the stairs—Liz and Jeremy wouldn’t have been surprised.
But after several hours, the men came back up the cellar stairs, sweating.
“Looks like you’re good to go,” they told Liz and Jeremy, who immediately ran to the closest sink to feel the difference.
“We have hot water!” Jeremy yelled from the bathroom.
“We have hot water!” Liz yelled from the kitchen.
They ran to each other and hugged.
“We’ll never be ungrateful again!” they both yelled, hoping that that would be true and that the next time something broke in their old house, that they’d respond with the joy that comes in trusting a God worth rejoicing over.
© 2014 Elizabeth Charlotte Grant