Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Thankful for affliction

In my daily reading of Psalms I came across these two verses, which reminded me of an essay I'd written:

"It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn Your statutes." Psalm 119:71
""I know. . .that in faithfulness You have afflicted me." Psalm 119:75

If you would have asked me ten years ago if affliction was "good" I would have said, "You're crazy!" But now I understand why it's good, and have learned to be thankful for the affliction itself.
(From 2005, the year everything changed)
I never thought I'd be grateful for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Having cancer at age 46 was not in my plans. I had a bursting-at-the-seams, simultaneously-juggling-several-roles-at-once kind of life. Even though it was exhausting, it was exhilarating too. But I was not thankful for my many blessings--I was too busy to notice! I did not listen to my body's needs; I pushed beyond fatigue and illness in my attempts to please everyone and keep more obligations than was prudent.

When my body "betrayed" me by developing cancer, at first I was stunned, then angry, then depressed. Everything happened so quickly after the diagnosis that my life turned upside down and inside out, especially when the chemo side effects began. Most days I didn't have the energy to do more than lay on the couch in misery. But during that time of quiet inactivity, I learned to be thankful.

I rediscovered small joys I had forgotten: the trill of a wren making a home in the bush outside the window, the patter of raindrops, the beauty of a single ray of sunshine, the voices of children walking home from school in the afternoon, cards and flowers send by many friends, remembered hymns and Bible verses that suddenly had new meaning. I learned to appreciate my husband and my teenaged son more than ever for their patience and the loving care they showed me each day.

I don't think I would have taken the time to be grateful for each new day and its blessings if I hadn't been sidelined by cancer and forced off the hamster treadmill. This illness has made it possible for me to see life with new eyes and appreciate how precious is every moment. For that I can honestly give thanks that I have lymphoma.

 I've gotten to see both sons graduate from college AND a grandbaby, too!


  1. A hard lesson to learn but we all must learn it at some point. Affliction seems so cruel at the time. When you arrive on the other side, everything else becomes clearer. Thank you for the reminder.

    1. Sadly, not everyone learns from this lesson. That must be why so many older people become bitter and miserable--they say, "Woe is me! Why did God do this to me?" instead of growing in their faith so they can look beyond the pain to the JOY that awaits the faithful child of God.