Joy commensurate to suffering
שמחנו כימות עניתנו
Every Shabbos morning in shul, I am makpid to fit in 'tefila l'Moshe' (together with yoshev b'seiser) even if I am late for p'sukei d'zimra. This is because I think of the years my father suffered in slave labor camps during the Holocaust and I know that he's up there now and I ask G-d each Shabbos to please "give (him) joy in measure of the years of suffering we were given," when I say "samcheinu kimos inosonu, sh'nos ra'inu ro'oh." Funny request Moshe makes there, no? What if we only suffered evil for 2-3 years - so we're asking for 2-3 years of Gan Eden or Olam Haboh, in return??
But it occurred to me that years of 'suffering and seeing evil' are made up of little tiny 'eternities,' for us humans. We all know that, and so does Hashem. Our feelings are always feelings of the moment, so suffering like what my father went through is horrible: each day surely felt like an eternity - hopelessness feels like it's forever, in the human heart.
I also suffered my personal isolated hell. Most of it was, of course, self-inflicted but I never saw it that way at the time. I never saw another option and eventually came to believe that I'd have to live to the end (and be buried) laden with my dirty secrets. G-d has given me about 21 years of sober days so far, so I've been sober for about as many years as I obviously had to act out - but, as I've said before, I do not believe that Hashem measures pain in units of days or years, but in moments: the reality of the heart. And so, I hope that the moments He gives me continue through a long, old and useful age, sharing recovery with other people. That's how I pray: expressing honest hopes, rather than asking for anything (see Step 11).