Thanksgiving Despite Unhappy Circumstances

[republished from November 2014, also published at Metro Voice News KC  p.12]

Thanksgiving tangled with unanswered prayers.

I slumped against the antiseptic tiled hallway.

My stalwart, “Hang on and hold it in,” gave way to unrestrained tears like prisoners let free. Crystal rivulets dropped to the floor at my feet.

Each time I exited my daughter’s hospital room at Mayo clinic my stiff control burst like a rubber band wound too tight. It was part of my routine, the dessert at the end of an inward tunnel of darkness.

My 19-year-old son, tall and lanky found me there. He pulled me into his embrace and wrapped his arms around me. He was twice my size and twice my strength.  With man-child concern he asked what he already knew.

“Oh, Mommy, Mommy,” he fussed over me as I had so often over him. “What’s wrong Mommy?”

I couldn’t play his sweet role reversal game. I couldn’t smile through my tears, nod my head, pat his back and say, “It will all be OK.”

Because it wasn’t OK, and it never would be.

Two months had gone by since our daughter Charity awoke feeling numb on one side. After a rapid spiral into complete paralysis, an army of doctors puzzled at what was assuredly sucking life out of the 26-year-old wife and mother.

“Oh Justin.” I managed a pathetic waver, weak but final. “I will never be happy again.”

How should I thank God for the pieces of Charity that daily dropped away like puzzle pieces? Could I really say “Thank you,” for the theft of her voice stripped of expression and thought? I was losing her, and I was not thankful to let her go.

I had pleaded with God. I had believed, but in spite of all my prayers, her out of control free fall continued.

“Happy?” I questioned. “Never.”

In Matthew 5, Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, Jesus defined blessed as Makarios, sometimes translated as happy. Blessed.

While nurses poked and doctors assessed, I cried against my son’s chest. God’s definitions and mine didn’t add up to the same thing.

In Scripture, Job worshipped in response to unthinkable loss, when all he possessed was stripped away and his ten children died. The Bible says, “He fell to the ground in worship, and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:20-21, NIV).

Surely the emotion of happiness was as far from Job’s heart at that point as it was in mine. Swirling thoughts in the winds of brokenness gathered around dawning truth.

There is never a circumstance in which I cannot worship.

Worship acknowledges the truths of God despite unhappy circumstances.  When everything is stripped away, God has to be enough.

Makarios isn’t about me. It is about the incomparable treasure of knowing Him, the God of the Universe, the Christ of my redemption.

I pulled myself away from the wall, stepped into the big steel elevator, and rode it to the first floor. I walked past the lady at the reception desk. Heavy glass doors separated inside from outside. I pushed open the double doors, and gasped.

Sunshine dazzled. Vibrant hues of brilliant greens, reds and yellows took my breath away. As though the Creator splashed hope into my sorrow and surrounded me with His Presence, a dark sepulcher within opened to glorious beauty, and involuntarily my lips moved.

“Thank you God,” I breathed, and my heart soared in reverent worship.

Markios. Blessed by God.

(You can read the entire article online at Metro Voice News KC  p.12)