In every thing give thanks:
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus
I Thessalonians 5:18
In 1979, I learned the pain that comes in the last few miles of a marathon when you go too fast between the 15 and 20 mile mark. In 2001, I felt that same pain again, searing through my chest and shoulder. The doctors eventually determined that the source of the pain was a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung). It felt exactly like the last four miles of the 1979 St. Louis Marathon — except it lasted for more than 48 hours before they reached the right combination of painkillers.
Recently, Terri and I visited a dear friend in the hospital who was having serious health problems. To our dismay, we learned on our arrival that he had a further complication — a pulmonary embolism.
Our friend, due to all the problems, was confused, and clearly didn’t understand what was going on. I told him, “You’ve had a blood clot on the lung. That’s what I had.” It was only a little thing, but it made a difference for him. He knew about my troubles, so now he was in known territory. I don’t know if he really understood the condition, but he understood that someone he knew and loved had been there, and it helped.
I knew where it hurt, and that shifting his position might help. I struggled for years with chest pain due to scarring on the lung (I still do, occasionally), and I knew how to ease him a little. Those years of discomfort helped me to know how to help.
As I left the hospital, I said to Terri, “I’m glad I had a pulmonary embolism.” A little later, I thought, “I’m glad I had continuing pain. I wouldn’t have known how to help him as much, otherwise.”
God commands us to give thanks in everything. That doesn’t come naturally to us, and it’s a hard lesson to learn. But sometimes, in His mercy, He lets us see how He is using those hard situations, and we find it easier to be thankful for them. I can say, “I’m thankful for my pulmonary embolism.”
It would be wrong to stop there, though. We walk by faith, not by sight (II Corinthians 5:7). If being allowed to “see” helps us learn gratitude, that should teach us to be thankful when the only sight we have is faith.
If we ever need to understand, God will show us. If we don’t need to understand, we’re left with faith — but faith is enough.
**God is not less good just because we don’t understand yet.**