The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts; so I am helped, and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. Psalm 28:7
It is now a little over 2 years since I became ill. Only a year ago I needed assistance to get up and get dressed. I used a wheelchair to get around, although I was beginning to use a walker. Questioned about how I was doing spiritually and emotionally I was able to respond as the Psalmist–really.
Throughout my hospitalization, in the days I began to be conscious, in those days that passed so slowly and my progress seemed so minimal, in the nights that seemed sometimes to be endless, I continued to come back to the example and words of Paul about being beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, constantly in danger, near death, (no I did not have them memorized, but I had the outline and he made his point to my heart, see 2 Cor 11:24ff); I knew that he had tasted the good life and given it up and endured all these things because of his relationship with Christ (again, I am not one to memorize verses, but I had the truth of Paul’s words in me and that was enough): “I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13
There was a deep peace within me in the knowledge of the love and concern of others beginning with my wife and children. As I began to be able to receive visitors I began to learn of the many (thousands of) prayers being offered on my behalf. The love of God for me–in all my weakness and especially as I neared death–was truly made incarnate in family and parish and community. I was at peace. I could face into a very uncertain future knowing I was not walking alone, that God indeed was trustworthy, and it was enough. There is strength in that knowledge, even when the circumstances of being alive are so tenuous, unwanted, and undesirable.
So it is on Thanksgiving Day 2010 that I give thanks with all my heart, even in the smallest of things, I find the hand and the touch of God in both darkness and light, big things and small, and I give thanks. If my recovery comes to a screeching halt and this is as good as it gets, I will give thanks. Even if I were to become ill again (difficult to think about but a constant reality) I will give thanks for one more day, one more chance to say “I love you,” another chance to do good in the moment I have and in the place that I am. Don’t get me wrong, I will experience anger, disappointment, fear, depression and probably a lot more, but through it all, stronger than all these other emotions, my strength and peace, will rest in the knowledge of God’s love and presence with me. The words of the Psalmist have a new and profound hold on me:
The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts; so I am helped, and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
- Today I move around with the aid of a cane and the hope is that I will continue to improve. I am able to care for myself and the hope is that I will get stronger still. There is still much that I would like to do but cannot do; the hope is that over time (patience is not easily acquired) I will again be able to do more than I can do today.
- For a chronicle of my illness and journey back please see the blog maintained by my 2 sons: 2blinks