Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Joys and Concerns

She stood, microphone in hand, and told the congregation how deeply the Lord had blessed her during the past week. Their little boy, who'd been in for tests, got a clean bill of health; and with that good news, the tears flowed, even though all of that had happened several days before.

So much joy. She overflowed with thanksgiving--for the prayers of her friends and the church at large because those prayers had brought her into God's own presence--or God into theirs. He was such a force beside her through the travail. It wasn't so much a prayer request as sheer exuberant thanksgiving.

She put down the microphone and sat, once again, beside her husband.

At another corner of the church, another young mother, waiting patiently for all that good thanks to cease, stood, another microphone in hand, then told the congregation something to the effect of that-whole-story's God being exactly the one she hoped would show up yet that day in the life of her baby, born just three days before, without all the required parts of his breathing apparatus.

He would be in intensive care for some time, she said, and the doctor had told her that the worst time--and, yes, really bad things could happen--would come in the next 24 to 48 hours. She needed, she said, the God who'd so generously visited the other family just a week ago.

I couldn't see the second young mother. She was in a corner of the sanctuary out of my line of vision, so I watched the first, who cried the whole time the second one spoke, the whole time the second one told her godless story. She had no Kleenex, or, if she did, she simply didn't bother. She wiped away tears constantly because I think she understood that what that second young mother didn't need just then was someone's triumphant declaration of God's presence, just when it seemed to her he'd been so absent.

It was an anguishing juxtaposition in our church last Sunday--bright joy on one hand; sheer darkness on the other. "Joys and concerns," our congregation calls that part of the litany, and sometimes it puts human emotions on the rack.

But it's us. It's our lives. It's the way things go. When we shout out our joys and concerns they can pile up into each other like cars in fog-bound traffic.

My wife was told there was a problem. She would need more tests. For two days I worried. For two days, she worried. Yesterday she went in, went through the battery of tests prescribed, and was told--all of this almost within an hour--that nothing malignant could be found, that she could go home, that she was just fine, that there was no reason for concern. She's free.

To say the least, we are relieved and thankful, immensely thankful.

But having gone through two rough days, I'm guessing that someone, somewhere, just yesterday, was told far less wonderful news when some other doctor took a look at her x-rays. I'd like to believe that God is always with us and that he would have been had the tests not proven negative, but I've read the Psalms and I've lived sixty years and I know very well that there are times when it seems he's somewhere in Peru or Mesopotamia.

We're happy. Both of us. And thankful, muchly. Muchly thankful.

We've suffered our concerns, but last night was one good night. Yesterday was one great joy.

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