Ask something of me and I will give it to you (1 Kgs 3:5).
We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose (Rm 8:28).
As I prepared for this Sunday’s readings, I kept coming back to these two lines of Scripture. It was not until the middle of the night that I understood why.
I woke up and thought to argue this one through.
Seriously, what I have been going through all these many months is my thorn in my side? You mean like Saint Paul?
I had always thought of Saint Paul’s thorn in his side as being physical suffering—perhaps imagining a real thorn. This child-like interpretation stuck with me, although I realized there were spiritual ramifications.
The thorn in my side arrived rather dramatically less than a year ago. I made a move towards forgiveness and reconciliation amongst my children that ended up being premature. Amazingly, and for the first time in my life, there was no getting the genie back in the bottle. An ember of hurt and destruction became a wildfire. When the heat and smoke diminished, all that was left were two camps.
This thorn has me crying every day (though hidden). It has affected a loss of desire to read and study. I am still shell-shocked that this could have happened in my family: shocked because the one consistent drive from me to my fourteen children has been no division. And yet, that has become the thorn in my side.
It is painful. It is heartbreaking. It is like a fog enshrouding my soul, a constant threat to my peace. It confuses me. It renders me helpless. It isolates me from those I love the most. It is lonely. It seems like it will last forever; perhaps it will have the final say . . . and then I will be gone.
At first, I was prideful—no way was this going to dominate my family. I was the mother. I had the responsibility to raise them up, even if they were all adults. Always a mother.
And while some of these thoughts are true, the Truth was what the soul-searching God asked of me. Where had I let the kids down? It became clear: the times I was consumed on the search-and-rescue mission for the lost one. The times I didn’t permit—and therefore did not listen to—the heartache of the kids who were affected in various ways. At those moments I judged them to be hard-hearted, stubborn, and unforgiving, and still I would not listen to their responses. All of this led some of them to feel abandoned and to believe I was not trustworthy.
I decided to approach the ones who were estranged and to individually ask for forgiveness. Not for the lost one and the years of turmoil, but for my absence, my judgementalism, my withdrawal of love and affection. I still have one more to go.
The Lord has given me a thorn. He has also given me the hope and love to believe that all of this will work for the good. We as a family will get through this chapter, and each of us will take the gifts the Lord has bestowed. For some it will be wisdom, for others it will be experience that will help them on their journeys. For me it will be more tears than I knew I had, which lands me on the doorstep of my Father God. He will take care of all, not me.
For all things work for good for those who love God.