During the Christmas season, I attended the most wonderful wedding – it was just what such a celebration at the holidays should be, yet as I sat in the dimly lit auditorium, I felt out of place. Weddings are joyous occasions and even as I truly entered into the happiness of the bride and groom I couldn’t completely escape the shadow of Chase’s cancer. …and so I sat, taking in the beauty and feeling vaguely guilty lest my shadow burden be apparent to anybody but myself.
Words broke through my distracted thoughts as a woman in a beautiful gray dress stood to do a reading. As she spoke, my shadow seemed to grow stronger. I couldn’t hear the words she spoke with anything other than cancer ears…even though I knew that they had been chosen to reflect this marriage love at the moment of commitment, but as she spoke the familiar words, my heart was soothed by the fresh reminder of the Gracious Provider…and then she began to cry…and I cried too because I had needed to hear those words.
Much later in the evening, Providence ordained that I meet the woman who read the verses: a divine appointment if ever there was one. I learned that she too carries a horrific cancer shadow. I, my baby boy…she, the spouse ’til death do they part. We talked and cried and felt helpless together in the middle of the beautiful reception and though I had never met her before and may not see her again for some time, she is my sister because of that night.
Many times since then, I’ve pondered the strange mixing of the celebration and the sadness, and the family relationship with a complete stranger because of the pain. In my mind, pain and joy belong in different universes, yet from birth to death we cannot separate them any more than we can separate ourselves from the Sovereign One who created us.
Here is an excerpt of the words she read that night…
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
Of this I am sure, there is a mercy in the shadows of pain – a severe, but present one nonetheless. I do not even pretend to know what it is, but I know it is there because I, and she, and all who walk a painful road walk it next to the Everlasting Love who has known us always and will know us still and what is a dim shadow now will be crystal clear when we see Him face to face. Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus, come soon.
Moment by moment.