By Pamela Patnode
The Lord has done great things for us, we are filled with joy. ~Psalm 126:3
It was April of 1994 when the bleeding and cramping began. As a young, married, twenty-something, this was my first pregnancy, and I did not anticipate this outcome. My doctor’s appointment confirmed that I was miscarrying. That night, as the bleeding continued, I attempted to baptize what I could of the child that I would not get to meet. Within a few days, my husband rushed me to the hospital, where emergency surgery was needed. At home and in bed, I cried.
In the first reading from Jeremiah, the Israelites are told to shout for joy because the Lord planned to gather the remnants of Israel and bring them back to the Promised Land. “Shout with joy for Jacob . . . proclaim your praise.” This is an unusual command to give to a people who had witnessed the destruction of the Northern Kingdom, which included violent deaths, exile, and tremendous suffering. Shouting for joy when life has been turned upside down takes tremendous faith, trust, and hope in the Lord.
Hope in the Lord is one of the themes running through this Sunday’s readings. In fact, this Sunday’s psalm also proclaims that “the Lord has done great things for us, we are filled with joy.” Yet, how does one rejoice in the Lord amid suffering? This act of trust can be a challenge, and it requires tremendous faith in God. However, to have this kind of faith in God, we need to work at it through regular prayer, participation in the sacraments, and cultivating a network of faith-filled friends.
In addition, I look to the example of others. Numerous saints suffered with tremendous joy, uniting their suffering to the redemptive work of Christ. There are also beautiful examples of people from Scripture who endured great agony yet did so with unshakeable faith. And there are people in my life who persevere through heart-wrenching losses with quiet faith and a steady peace. All of these people are witnesses to me. They remind me that God is in control, that God’s mercy endures forever, that hope is still present despite suffering, and that we can rest in God’s love and trust in His divine plan for goodness.
It has been 27 years since that first miscarriage. As I look back over the years—years of blessings and challenges, joys and sorrows, I can say with complete conviction, “The Lord has done great things for us, we are filled with joy.”
Jesus, I trust in you. Jesus, I trust in you. Jesus, I trust in you.
Call to Action
Read Habakkuk 3:17-19
Prayerfully consider some of the sufferings that you have endured. Then, prayerfully consider (and even write down) five to ten blessings that you have received from the Lord. Next, give thanks to the Lord. Listen to a hymn of thanksgiving or a contemporary song of praise and worship – and sing your praises to the Lord.
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