Thanksgiving in the Midst of Pain

I missed Holy Week.  I missed the whole darn thing.  Except the part where my feet are washed clean.  I missed clinging to the cross and the Resurrection glory.

Pink dogwood dancing in the breeze against a deep blue sky:  my view for four days now.  A virus has swept through our family, taking me down last and shrinking my world into this:  pink dogwood against vibrant blue.

I’ve never had a Holy Week like this.  I had my feet washed Maunday Thursday by Andrew and have had to allow my exhausted husband serve me ever since…me and the children.  He even packed the Easter baskets, padded them with that annoying green plastic stick-to-everything grass and hid them so the children could enjoy the seeking.

I am a priest and could not do Holy Week.  I am a mother and could not guide the journey.

I get up gingerly and try to pick up (just try to do 10 things, Summer), to make dinner, to throw loads of laundry into the washer until the pain of an inflamed neck, upper back and shoulder begins shooting down into my right arm and I can’t move any longer.

By Sunday morning, my discouragement was high, (traditions had to be pared down, kids disappointed, and by the time church came around I was in pain again).

After the kids walked out the door in Easter finery, tears flowed and the preacher I heard on the tv made me miss, “Up from the grave He arose” and “He is Risen” so much I pulled a dress over my jammies and sat in the back for a half hour.  Then, weakness hit again and I slunk lower into my chair until I knew I ached (literally) to be horizontal on the red couch looking at this dogwood again and easing into a heating pad.  Relief.

What have I learn from this?

I’m not very grace-filled toward the chronically ill in my life.

Pain effects much more than ability, it effects mood, effects the ability to capture thoughts and make them subservient to truth, and drowns out the ability to make others-centered decisions.  Pain large enough, becomes god.  Lord, have Mercy.

What other truth came with this pain?

I tend to shut God out when I get sick.  I drown in favorite movies and ride the waves of pain by reading Pride and Prejudice again.  Do you have a sick book, always watch a certain Meg Ryan?

Finally, this morning, I began Practicing God’s Presence, giving Him the pain…being with Him with the pain.  Pain stayed but joy also came, spreading out underneath.

In Your Presence, there is fullness of joy…and it is true, even in a world where pain is still allowed, where the Kingdom has not entirely come.

I’m Ann Voskamp, I’m counting my thanks, eucharisteo:

Dad, a doctor, able to perscribe even on Easter Sunday

Children curling up next to me enjoying my stillness

Friends who surround, loving children, filling blanks

Husband, grace-filled

Fast, confetti eggs covered with melted crayon shavings

Accepting grace, for us, for my house, for my lack

You’re Already Amazing by Holley Gerth on my ipad

Last Monday creating a freezer full of home-cooked food, I had no idea how needed

pink dogwood against a blue sky

perfumed breeze blowing through the windows

Summer Gross

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  1. As pain pulls you down, I trust your descent into hard eucharisteo drives you even deeper into Christ. So sorry for how you are suffering right now. Offering prayer for your restoration and thanksgiving for early dogwood blossoms in SouthWest MI!

  2. What a wonderful blessing for you to find the ugly beautiful in what happened because of your illness. I do pray you will be feeling better, much better, soon.
    God is good, all the time….

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