Today’s First Reading from 1 Thessalonians 3 asks a pertinent question: How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? I have just completed a one-week vacation of sorts on the West Coast of Canada. Really, an escape perhaps would be a better word. I needed a break from my reality and so I fled to the arms of those would minister to me and help me get back onto solid ground. I am left feeling very much like the writer of Thessalonians–how can I thank God enough for all those who welcomed me?
Let me be very clear that my family and friends here also fall into this category of trying to figure out how to thank them properly for all that they have done and continue to do for me as I recover from my surgery and now receive chemotherapy. However, this prairie girl was in desperate need of an emotional overhaul. I needed tall forests, mountains, and oceans. I craved beauty. I desired a photography fix–I needed to see through the lens of my camera God in all things. My spirit wanted rest on a far-reaching level. Deep conversations were healing. God, the Generous Giver, did not disappoint. God had this.
How exactly can I thank God enough for the blessings received–the beauty, the joy, the relaxation, the distractions, the take-me-as-I-am welcome? I was spoiled and I am ever so grateful to each of the people who played a role in that. I feel less broken than when I left. Something was mended physically, emotionally and spiritually. In all my encounters I was immersed in consolation. I was fed well with healthy food. I slept often and deeply. I walked for kilometers. People indulged me and I tried hard just to take it without giving back as I might normally. This trip was all about me and I am grateful for the angels all around me who did not think I was being horribly selfish–or if they did, they were kind enough not to say a negative word. I look for miracles and half way through my trip, I noticed the difference at my core. I could feel a strength I had not felt lately, both in my body and in my spirit.
I needed to get away in order to take the next step of chemo and returning to work part-time. I had not expected to come home and have to deal with a major issue right off the hop but I did. I think a week ago, I might have dissolved into tears with one more problem to deal with but instead, I handled it more or less in stride. I could feel my anger rise at this latest event but instead I chose not to give into desolation and by the end of the day, I was not crushed. I am still standing and know that God.has.this.too.
As I write this, I feel the joy I rediscovered returning. I am chuckling at one of my friends who greeted me with a warm hug and the words You look great! How do you expect to get any sympathy? I am tasting a home-cooked turkey meal and a stir-fry with peanut sauce again. I am swinging in a hammock. I am sitting by a river in a forest, breathing deeply. I can see the sparkle of the sea in the morning light. The heron is looking at me with its head cocked, wondering what I am doing staring at it. I hear the laughter between friends who care that I am restoring my soul. I am engrossed in engaging conversation about something else other than my illness. I hear these folks tell me time and again that I should just rest and they will wait upon me. I am grateful for people who made the effort to fit me into busy lives, who accepted me as I was, and who let me be me as I currently am. I have packed all these memories and more into my mind so that I can draw upon them when I need to. I cannot thank God enough for each of those amazing angels who returned me to joy and strength. To God be the glory!
Who in your life needs a thank you for all the joy you feel because of them?
As you go through your day, are you spotting God in all things, including the challenging events and marvelous moments?
How can I thank you enough, God
for the ministering angels you
place all around me?
What words can I find to convey
their presence restores my soul?
Joy flourishes as they water my depths
and renew my faith and trust.
Creation is a beauty balm,
calming me with each stunning scene.
You have given me more
than I can ask or imagine
and I am eternally grateful.