Monday, July 24, 2017

Say Thank You

Both things happened together, about a year ago. One was good, and the other, well, I guess it was also good only at the time I didn’t realize it. The first thing that was definitely good was that I started listening to the Kol Toda telephone line. I would listen to stories, chizuk, and shiurim and I started thanking Hashem for things in my life. 

The other thing that didn’t seem so good was the lump that my doctor found on the course of a routine checkup. “It’s only 0.1 centimeters, a really small lump, but we should keep track of it,” said the doctor. He wrote up forms for further checkups but when I got home I was so horrified that I stuck my head in the sand and pushed the forms deep into my junk drawer, the one that I never look inside of, and promptly forgot about it. A few months later, when I was cleaning for Pesach, I came across the forms and thought it would be a good idea to go have the lump checked out again. I made an appointment and the doctor found that the lump hadn’t disappeared like I would have wanted. Instead it grew to 2.2 centimeters. “How could you have ignored my warning?” the doctor berated me. All I could do was hang my head in shame. 

The doctor made me appointments at the hospital and sent me there right away. This time I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I was so frightened and mixed up that I completely forgot about all that I had learned on Kol Toda. The Yetzer Hora caused me to forget it just when I needed it most… On the way to the hospital my fingers, absentmindedly dialed Kol Toda. I suddenly recalled all that I had learned and I went back to listening to the line. Suddenly, I came up with a great idea. I would fight my illness by giving TODA to Hashem! Right now! Right away though, I had to contend with various difficulties and not let them get me down. For instance, one time, when I was waiting in the hospital I found a pamphlet that discussed precisely my illness, and described how medical research gave only a 25% survival rate. I was devastated. Boruch Hashem I had a change of heart and I realized that it was only the Yetzer Hora who presented me with that pamphlet, trying to pull me down and inject dejection into my heart. I told myself, “I am not a statistic! I am no percent on a researcher’s chart! I am Hashem’s beloved child. I said ‘Thank you Hashem for the cells that You chose to send right into my body! Thank You, it must be the best thing in the world!’”, and I really meant it. 

I read in Shearav Betoda that when a person thanks Hashem for the good things in his life and then thanks Hashem for the seemingly not so good ones, he internalizes that Hashem’s very essence is equal – only good. My lump was still under observation while I worked on my gratitude. I would walk around with my eyes closed and bump into things. Then I would open my eyes and exclaim, gratefully, “Thank You Hashem, l can see!” I would try to write with my left hand, or do things with only one hand and then thank Hashem from the depth of my heart for my two functioning hands. I tried hopping on one foot and realized how much I need my two feet. Then I would thank Hashem for my two healthy feet… That whole month I worked on the midda of gratitude to Hashem. I used every opportunity to express my gratefulness for all of Hashem’s kindnesses to me. Well, the end was nothing less than a miracle. On one of the checkups, I was in the middle of thanking Hashem as I was used to. This time though I felt a deep inner joy filling my entire being and I knew, I just KNEW, that I would survive. “What happened to you?” the doctor wanted to know, “You are usually shaking from fright. How come you are so relaxed today?” I didn’t think the doctor was a man of faith so I just mumbled, “They say if you think good thoughts, the future will be good” so I am trying to think good thoughts…” The doctor started checking me and broke out in a smile, “Listen“, he said. “It disappeared! There is nothing left of the growth!” I couldn’t believe it, and even the doctor, who I thought didn’t believe in Hashem, started shouting "THANK G-D IT'S GONE. THANK G-D IT'S GONE!!"

[kol toda av 5777]