“…the works of God are to be declared and made known.” (Tobit 12:7)
Before Mass every Sunday, our Pastor declares, God is good, and the congregation responds, all the time. All the time, he says, and we affirm, God is good.
This ritual helps prepare me for worship, and I try to be present to these words and allow images of God’s goodness from the previous week to float into my consciousness. God’s goodness is something I can take for granted since it happens all the time. I need to remind myself that God’s goodness is not humdrum or tedious, but rather is a great gift that needs to be declared and made known.
But, how do I tell of God’s works in my life?
When I was clearing out my journals last week, I came across a Gratitude Journal—lists of things for which I was grateful, an accounting of God’s generosity to me in everyday life. No narrative—just the facts.But writing things in a journal is not the same as declaring and making known. Journaling is a good thing to do—to remind myself of all the blessings I received in a day—but if it stops there, I feel like I am missing something. Declaring and making known imply telling others about the good works of God.Last fall, we had an intern from a local university at the cancer support center where I work. She told me that when the internship opportunities were posted, no one wanted the cancer support center. Cancer? Too difficult, too sad, too depressing. But this young woman was up for the challenge. She worked at a doctor’s office and had experience with people getting bad health news and making decisions about treatment and sometimes having to face the fact that treatment was not working.
“The other interns don’t know what they are missing,” she said one day. We were reflecting on the good things that happen at work every day.
Yes, there are difficulties and sadness and plenty of reasons for people to be depressed, but there are also many opportunities for joy, hope and gratitude as people accept and encourage one another.
Even through the anxiety of a cancer diagnosis and the ugliness of treatment, God’s works are evident. Perhaps it is in the deepest suffering that God can do his best work.
This past week, a man brought his fiancée to a support group. He and I chatted while she was in the group. He told me that he was tired of hearing her say, “You don’t know what I am going through,” and he was happy to have found this place where she could be with others who do know what she is going through. His relief was palpable. After chatting for a while, he said, “I think I will move up our wedding date.” Now that is a sign of hope!
God is good all the time. All the time, God is good. Declare it.