Doesn’t it sometimes feel like our suffering will go on forever, that the tears we cry will never cease, and the doubts running through our mind will never relent? Aren’t there times when it seems like we’re fumbling through the darkness, and though we can see a sliver of light, no matter how far we trek and how patiently we press on we can’t seem to reach the end of the tunnel?
I’ve felt that way off and on throughout the past year, and I certainly felt that way the first week after my cancer diagnosis. After becoming fully conscious for the first times in days, the photo below was taken, and it’s a perfect example of a picture being worth a thousand words. I could never express through words as well as this picture expresses the overwhelming confusion and fear I felt during the two weeks I was hospitalized, when all we could do was wait for John Paul to grow enough to have a chance at surviving outside of the womb. Though I was in desperate need of chemotherapy, and it was difficult to breathe when sitting, and impossible to do so when lying down, I knew our sweet son needed more time-as much time as we could safely give him. So we waited. And during those weeks that felt like months, there were many times when I felt like my fear and suffering would never end, and I wondered if I would ever again experience true joy.
But here I am, one year later, as perfect proof that as life moves on, so does suffering. None of it lasts forever, even the scariest, most intense pain and fear. As He has promised, God is faithful, and He makes all things new. And with the end of our long night of suffering comes incredible joy in the morning. I have been blessed that for now my suffering has subsided, but if we trust what our God has told us, we believe that even if we only know suffering in this life, or we leave this world in pain, we will find peace and joy in the eventual embrace of our Lord.
When I was first diagnosed with cancer last year, if I had known that the possibility of disease might still be in my life one year later, I don’t know that I would have thought as much joy as is in my life now was possible. But oh, how I would have been wrong! Just look at what my life looks like one year later!
That’s not to say there aren’t still tears that flow and fears that fill my mind, or that there isn’t healing that’s needed and that I pray for. I also know that as life continues to move forward there will inevitably be more moments of pain and suffering. But what joy there is, joy I could have never imagined as I sat in that hospital bed one year ago, when it seemed like my suffering would never relent, my pain never cease! My mother has always said “This too shall pass,” and how I have discovered how right she is this year! Pain and suffering, fears and tears are fleeting; joy is forever. In those last moments before we leave this world and enter the arms of our Lord, I am certain it’s the smiles and laughter we’ll hold on to, cherish, and remember, not the temporary moments of worldly pain. And it’s this belief that gives me strength to move on when my spirit falters, when despair threatens to steal my happiness. It’s this belief that I will never let go of, and this belief that continues to give me the unending, unrelenting hope I so heavily lean upon.