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Reflections

 How can I repay the LORD for all the great good done for me?
Ps 116:12

Jesus with Children

When I came home from my first prayer meeting many years ago, I said to my husband, “They praise the Lord. Out loud. In front of everybody! They shout, ‘Hallelujah and Praise Jesus!’” My husband said, “I don’t get it. Why do we need to praise the Lord? He already knows He’s great, doesn’t He?” I said, “I don’t know.”

Shortly after this exchange, a petite blond prayed over me, and as she did, she whispered in my ear, “Whenever you feel your symptoms, praise and thank God.”

I was livid. What did she know about me? Or my symptoms? What did she know about a life half spent in bed too weak to move - what it was like to hear the voices and laughter of my husband and children rising up from downstairs, living their lives without me?

In particular, what did she know about the spasticity also known as clonus that grabbed ahold of me without warning and took ownership over my arms and legs so that they jumped and danced wildly or, well, spastically?

What did she know about me at all? I was furious.

I never blamed God for multiple sclerosis. I accepted that suffering was a part of life. I offered my suffering to the Lord, uniting it with the suffering of Jesus. But the idea of thanking and praising Him for it was unacceptable, really unbearable to me.

And then one afternoon, as I was lying in bed, the clonus took over my legs. They began shuddering and jerking. I tried shouting it away. That was the solution my husband and I had come up with. Shouting to it out loud, “Get out! I’m stronger than you! I will defeat you!” I yelled curses. Sometimes that strategy actually worked. I attributed that to the whole mind over matter phenomenon. But this particular afternoon, it was useless.

This particular afternoon, I was exhausted and weak, and I just didn’t have the will or the strength to fight back on my own. I had no more fight in me. I felt myself drifting away, defeated by a relentless enemy. And then I remembered the petite blond and the words she whispered in my ear, “Praise and thank God.”

And so, in utter desperation, without any faith, without any respect or love in my heart, and with no little resentment, I shouted out to the Lord, “Thank you, Jesus! Praise you, Lord! Praise you, Jesus! Thank you, Lord, thank you…”

The symptoms did not go away, but something else happened. Something better. It was as if the Lord had entered into my suffering. He took it upon Himself. He took the weight of it upon His shoulders. And He gave me a lighter burden. At that moment, I knew that the fight was not my own. I was not on my own. My Savior would battle for me.

I told my husband that night, “I don’t know why God needs our praise. I only know I need to praise Him.”

From that day, to this, words of praise and thanksgiving come easily to me I am so grateful to the Lord.

How can I repay the LORD for all the great good done for me? Ps 116:12

This has been the cry of my heart for a very long time. The question seems unanswerable. Everything, everything comes from God – how can we possibly repay Him?

Actually, Psalm 116 itself gives us the answer:

I will offer a sacrifice of praise and call on the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people, In the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Hallelujah! Ps 116:17-19

Ana Maria Garcia

 

Ana María García is a Catholic lay evangelist representing Good News International. She proclaims the Gospel and witnesses to the healing power of God’s love and mercy. Ana María is the mother of three children, grandmother of four, and a parishioner of the Church of St. Luke in Toms River.