In thanks of suffering.

I rubbed my husband's joints tonight, helping lull him to sleep through the pain of his arthritis--a flare up of which began yesterday and has yet to subside. It's a ritual we've had since our wedding.

In the dark of night, I am alone with four things: my husband, his pain, prayer, and the Lord. With my glasses off and the curtains drawn, I can't even make out the shape of our dresser, or even the Crucifix on the wall. The cover of darkness allows no distractions--no laptop, no television, no tidying up the kitchen, no snacking, none of the convenient play things that adults use to divert their attention from life's harsh realities.

The reality for my husband never changes: He has pain, and he lives with it. Me? I think of him, and his pain, near constantly through the day. But I can run from it when I want--to the internet, to a store. Until bedtime, that is, when the running ends.

Sean's pain, and my corresponding compulsion to help relieve or reduce it while he tries to fall asleep, has created a dependable prayer time for me. Never in my life have I been so consistent in both greeting the Lord and asking for His assistance and mercy. Never in my life have I prayed so hard, for so long. Each night, I feel like I say to Jesus, "Hello again. It's just me, asking for the same thing. I know You hear me. Please answer this prayer, in Your mercy and in Your time."

In the darkness, I give thanks that God has brought me closer to Him through my husband's cross. The darkness, that cross, and the prayer sometimes make me weep. But usually, the tears fall after Sean has fallen asleep--a small but rich blessing at the end of a long day, and another thing to be grateful for.