Many times in our periods of profound sadness or grief, we feel as though we will be in mourning forever. In times of overwhelming loss, we may have trouble believing that we will ever smile again. In the beginning of this booklet, you read about Sara, who believed she was to experience only sadness in life. Perhaps you can relate to the sorrows of Sara.
Twisting the torn tissue around her fingers, Sara cried, “I think that God has marked my life with a dark cloud.”
“May I ask what the dark cloud of your life feels like for you?”
“Heavy, burdensome, painful, hurtful, hopeless.”
“You feel all of those deep feelings of sorrow?”
“I’m so sorry. Have you felt those feelings for a long time?”
With tears in her eyes, Sara nodded and began to share her painful life story. “My father was an angry alcoholic. After my mother died when I was five, my father was extremely physically abusive to my brother and me. I joined the Army after high school to get away from my dad. In fact, I never wanted to see him again. I thought I’d begin a wonderful new life in the Army.”
“Did you find the hope you were looking for in the Army?”
“Hmm. Yes and no. At first, things were great. While everyone else would complain about basic training and the challenges of Army life, I was thriving because I was free from an abusive father.”
“I gather that something happened while you were in the Army which changed your positive outlook on your military experience?”
Sara shifted somewhat nervously and looked out the window as she spoke of her military sexual trauma. She shared that her longing for care of a loving father resulted in her being taken advantage of while in the Army. As a result of that trauma, Sara stated, “I felt forever damaged. I was even more convinced that I was a cursed and forsaken object that deserved nothing better than pain and sorrow.”
“Sara, my heart aches to hear of your pain. I believe that God also is heart-broken over the pain you have experienced in your life.”
With an indignant voice, Sara replied, “If God really is heart-broken over the horrific things I’ve experienced in my life, why would God now end the happiness which I have found with a wonderful man by giving me a diagnosis of terminal cancer?”
“So, you are angry with God for allowing a terminal cancer diagnosis when you now have joy in your life?”
“Yes. It is so unfair. I deserve some bright moments in my life. Childhood abuse, military sexual trauma, an abusive first husband. Peter is the first and only good thing that has ever happened to me in my life. We’ve been married only three months. So do you see why I believe that God has cursed me with a dark cloud?”
With tears in my eyes, I held Sara’s hand and replied, “Oh, yes, Sara, I do see why you see a dark cloud over your life. I am so sad, so very sad with you. I too would like to question and ask God why. Why all the sadness and dark moments, God? Why? This is all so very unfair!”
We sat in silence and cried for some time. Sara then began to talk of Peter and his sorrow over her terminal diagnosis. Sara spoke of how Peter’s love and understanding patience had captured her heart and won her fervent trust. Sara also noted that Peter had experienced his own deep sorrows in life, yet that he had a resilient spirit that was an inspiration to her and others.
Several weeks later, I spoke with both Sara and Peter. They talked of how they had been extremely angry with God, and were justified in asking why Sara’s cancer should drastically cut short their anticipated years of happiness. Yet, they also spoke of how intense prayer and grief counseling brought them to a point of recognizing the value of choosing joy for whatever time they would have together. They spoke of their decision to live a day at a time… not die a day at a time. Both Sara and Peter stated, “Together, we fervently committed to make a happy memory each day, and thank God for the beautiful moment.” Sara and Peter talked of how they were building a memory bank of beautiful moments which they would entrust to God for all eternity. Despite the very sad circumstances of their lives, Sara and her husband learned that qualities like hope, love, and joy can transcend temporal life circumstances and lead us to rejoice in everlasting hope, life, and joy.