“Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15).
As I waited with my grandson Sully for his being called to triage, we met another St. Jude patient. She was the same age as Sully, born the same day. Sully had infant A.L.L. leukemia. She had a brain tumor. His chances of survival were minimal. Her doctors back home sent her home on hospice care. Her mother contacted St. Jude and she was admitted as a patient. Sully died at age fifteen months. She survived. Genuinely I rejoice and am grateful for this child’s life. Through my volunteer work at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital I know other children who are survivors. O how grateful I am for their lives.
I genuinely rejoice when I hear stories of children who are survivors of pediatric cancers. My prayer and hope is that stories of survival will greatly increase. I genuinely praise God and rejoice in his grace for the healing and survival stories. Yet there are those times when there is pain in rejoicing, pain in praise.
Parents write with such beautiful words of joy, faith, and praise, as they tell of their child’s being declared cancer free. Words of praise to God, rejoicing in his love, his goodness, and his power. “God is an almighty God. God answers prayer. God is always good,” boldly and gratefully written. I genuinely rejoice in the good news of healing. I praise God. Yet, when I read the joyful words of praise and thanksgiving for a child healed, there is pain in my rejoicing, pain in my praise, the pain of loss, the pain of missing my grandson, the pain of Sully not surviving. This is not jealousy or envy. Rather this pain in rejoicing and pain in praise comes from the love I will always have for Sully.
This pain is not a lack of faith. Rather pain in rejoicing and pain in praise comes from faith having experienced the crucible of suffering, loss, and grief. When God Almighty does not move the mountain, when God does not answer in the way he was begged to answer, when the good does not come from God who is always good, faith struggles to rejoice and to praise God. There is pain in the rejoicing. There is pain in the praise. There is faith holding on in the midst of the pain.
“But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul”
“Even If” by Mercy Me