When Can We Rejoice?
Last month, on the morning of my colonoscopy, I read the following quote: “Struggling and rejoicing are not two chronological steps, one always following the other. Rather they are two concurrent movements, one fluid with the other.” (Ann Voskamp – The Greatest Gift)
Throughout the preceding day, I had given thanks that this colonoscopy preparation, although grueling, was nothing compared to the first time I’d had this procedure. There were even moments of actual rejoicing when during phone calls of support, laughter replaced exhaustion. Those brief good moments made the preparation easier to endure and added to my celebration afterwards. When the doctor wrote on my sheet, “Come back in five years”, I knew there were no signs of colon cancer. “Hallelujah,” I cheered and phoned my family and friends.
. Often at funerals, we hear laughter ring out, see smiles amid the tears. We don’t have to wait until the road of grief has ended. In the midst of our journey of sadness, we can visit our memories and rejoice.
We all have struggles, some are desperate and painful, some are short-lived. Whether we’re writing an essay, shoveling snow, cleaning the house, it’s the moments of joy, however fleeting, in the midst of the work that make the burden bearable and add to the sweetness of completion. When we focus only on the drudgery, the pain, the struggle we miss the gifts God has given us to lighten the load. For sure, preparation for a colonoscopy is not fun, but there were moments of comedy and of thanksgiving. Letting myself experience them helped smooth the journey.
God doesn’t expect us to wait until the struggle is over before rejoicing can begin. In fact, God
offers us gifts of joy along the road, if we will only see and accept them.
St. Paul says, “Rejoice always, pray continually.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-17)