I gave thanks before. I was fall-on-my-knees-grateful for the way God provided for us when we learned Craig had cancer. I was so thankful He was with in me in the car as I drove to meet the ambulance carrying Craig from one hospital to another. I knew I was blessed beyond measure when God sent dear friends to sit and pray with me for two days through risky procedures. Thankful doesn't seem a large enough word to encompass the immense love I felt for my Father and the way He provided for me and my family during one of the most difficult times of our lives. But I was. I was so thankful. I knew I could never have survived without Him.
Because it was hard, I have thought maybe I wasn't really surrendered, you know, on my knees, completely emptied of myself. I sure didn't want to suffer anymore. What does that say about my faith? Did I learn what He had wanted to teach me the first time around? What about the second time, when the scans weren't clear and we thought the cancer had metastasized to his lungs? I know what that treatment looks like; it killed my dad. Could I still see the grace, trust Him, cling to Him and give thanks if the cancer had spread???
My beloved's scans were clear. No cancer. But I can say with a fair amount of certainty that I would choose to see the grace, give thanks and receive joy. Joy doesn't always come immediately. If you have suffered great pain or loss in your life, you know. It feels like you will never feel joy again. The dull ache that remains after you have been through the fire feels like it will never leave. As I was searching scriptures for Truth to face my fear about Craig's scans, He reminded me that joy follows suffering. God promises that the other side of suffering is joy. Let me say that one more time, for myself as much as for you: HE PROMISES THAT JOY COMES AFTER SUFFERING.
Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
Please believe His promise if you are in the middle of hurt that is breaking your heart. Joy IS coming. It may feel like the pain will never end but it does; suffering is temporary. Keep counting the grace-gifts, the multitude of ways He cares for you while you suffer. And the joy that comes, after that kind of hard eucharisteo, is sweet grace indeed.