I’d like to build a bit, if you will, on last week’s column about gratitude. To be honest, I quite simply ran out of time and missed my column deadline so I asked my editor to run a previously published column.
Odd that she chose one I had written about gratitude? I think not. I don’t believe in coincidence. Readers know that I believe in God’s providence, God’s sovereignty. Choosing that column, without my editor realizing it, nudged me closer to what I had been sensing from God.
It began with a weekend study of the New Testament books of 1 and 2 Peter. “ … but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing…” (1 Peter 4:13, NASB). Given the nature of the past eight months of my life, I freely admit I have struggled with this one, but I felt God calling me to express gratitude in my own suffering.
Then, after asking my editor to choose a column, she chose this one. The second publication of that column aligned with God’s call to my heart. It is not an easy task to express gratitude during suffering. At times, it may seem Pollyannaish or looking at life through rose-colored glasses. I have been accused of both, but my response to this call was much deeper.
Basically, God’s call is for me to trust Him completely. Trust him to know what was best for Thurston and what is now best for me. Trust him to guide me through the adjustment to a new life, a dramatically changed life. Trust him to gently lead me to keep on rejoicing.
Therefore, I do rejoice. I am grateful.
I am grateful for special friends. One persisted in asking what she could do while Thurston was ill. I repeatedly requested her prayers and availability to listen when I needed an ear. Then I told her that I would really need her after Thurston was called home, explaining that I had no idea how I would react, how I would live or how I would move forward. I needed her to help me learn to be a widow. She has been a widow for over 20 years and has been my friend for over 20 years as well. She did as she was asked. She still does. Grateful? Yes! I have learned from her that all my feelings are valid, that I will adjust to a changed life, that I will always have a hole in my heart, that I will still cry at times, that I will learn to laugh again.
Then there is Thurston’s former coworker who lost her husband to a lightning strike when she was very young. I located her via the Internet to let her know about Thurston. She called immediately and has continued to call periodically. During our last phone conversation, she said in all sincerity, “Thurston’s life was you and Laura. You were his ‘home.’” She also told me that while at church one recent Sunday, Thurston came to her mind and she promised him she will continue to check on me from time to time. Grateful? Definitely.
Another friend gets my papers and mail when I am away, takes in my garbage and recycle bins and checks on my home. She was there to explore care options when I realized Thurston was not just sick. He was dying. She listened and she counseled. She asked the hard questions and waited for me to be able to answer them. Thankful? Definitely.
Looking back now at some of the worst years of our life together, I am thankful that Thurston was able to stay in our home during his illness. I am grateful that Laura and I were able to “be” his home as God weaned him from this life to the eternal one. I am thankful for the quiet days we had together, the days when his sweet smile was even sweeter and his kind eyes were even kinder. I am thankful that I fell in love with him all over again.