Monday, November 11, 2013

On Suffering and Trials

The grief and sorrow comes and goes in waves. Sometimes it’s a gentle lapping. Other times it seems like an overwhelming tidal wave. It beckons me to sink in despair, to shake my fists at the heavens with all my might. In the dark moments when the waves seem to come without ceasing, I am almost tempted to do just that.  When the waves are relentless, my flesh is enticed to give in to the thoughts of hopelessness. But the Spirit that abides in me beckons me to hope.

I am in an ocean of people who are suffering and walking through so many trials. My heart hurts for the mom whose children want nothing to do with her. I have sorrow for the woman who can’t seem to reconcile her broken marriage. I grieve with friends whose babies were taken from them before they could ever experience the joy of holding their precious little ones. My heart is in pain at the thought of friends struggling from inner emotional turmoil. I am heartbroken for friends who are mourning the loss of friendships in their lives.

In my own life, I haven’t been spared from grief and struggle. My husband and I had only been home from our honeymoon for 2 weeks when we learned that my Dad had stage 4 lung cancer. He went home to be with Jesus 2 short months later. Several months later, we buried my 4 year old nephew. And not too long after that, my sweet Granddad passed away. It seemed like the underlying current and theme of our first year of marriage was grief and death.

Several years later, our sweet baby boy had to be hospitalized for a week. I remember crying and crying in the emergency room as they did test after test to figure out what was making him sick. And I remember crying and crying when the fever wouldn’t come down, and just wanting it all to be over. I wanted our suffering to end. I wanted ALL the grief, not just ours, to end. But I also remember the hope that I had, and this uncanny peace that flowed within me.

I knew then- like I know now-, that God is good. Ultimately, supremely.. no matter what my circumstance is.. God is good. He is the author and creator of good. And I knew, that whatever was going on.. my Dad dying, my sweet nephew not growing up in front of our eyes, my own son suffering from a viral infection… God is good. These things were not happening to us, to me, from a malicious God who hated me.  That doesn’t change. His goodness does not stop and He only gives what is good. Even if sometimes it’s wrapped in harsh packing like trials and suffering.

I held onto the hope and promise of what is to come. I knew that God, no matter how crappy things may have gotten around me, was working for my good. In the midst of death and suffering… He was good and was working for my good, too. (Romans 8:28) I knew that I am a co-heir with Christ. (Romans 8:17) This world and my life will surely be filled with suffering and trials. But I have hope for what is to come. (Romans 8:23-25)

It is clinging to these truths that we can suffer well together. And no, I don’t mean we don’t unleash our ugly cry in the midst of grief and suffering. No, I don’t mean there won’t be moments when we truly just don’t even want to get out of bed. By “suffering well”, I don’t mean we have to be these robots who go through the motions like we are completely unphased and not even the slightest bit unnerved by the turmoil that surrounds us.

What I mean by suffer well is this… cling to deep biblical truths in the midst of all the crap that this life has sometimes. When you are eye-deep in grief, cling to the hope that is to come. When your heart is shattered by those you hold so dear and near, know that God is supremely good. We can’t have our crown of glory, without first enduring the cross. (James 1:12)

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