March 7, 2017
The Problem with Suffering
As I write this letter, I do not profess to have all the answers to the reasons why we suffer. But I want to share three experiences where extreme suffering took place and how I have seen God in each of them.
A few weeks ago, my youngest son had a very serious and delicate spine surgery that involved levels c2 - c7 of his neck. It seemed like smooth sailing until he awoke the morning after the surgery experiencing severe allergic reactions to the medicine in his pain pump. The problems really started when the pain pump was removed to try and get the allergic reactions under control; as with so many things, when we try to fix one problem, another happens. Within six hours, he was feeling horrible pain, the oral pain meds weren't coming close to handling his pain level. The nurses, with the oral medication, couldn't get ahead of the pain. Eight hours after the pump had been removed, his suffering was so extreme, that he couldn't open his eyes or move his body. He also had a 102 degree temperature. He was barely able to mumble to me, "Mom I think I'm dying!" All I can say is that I felt completely helpless. I held a cold compress over his forehead with one hand and the other on his arm praying for Jesus to help and to heal. I think I raised my voice when I told the nurse that if she didn't get in touch with the doctor I would. Suffering will cause this kind of reaction! Pretty soon after, the nurse returned with some IV meds that brought my son around. To see your child suffer and not be able to do anything about it is horrendous!!! I thought our pain and suffering was terrible until I received the phone call from home.
My husband called to tell me that some friends of ours had just lost their eight year old grandson. This precious young man had suffered and succumbed to a series of grand mal seizures. He had had a perfectly normal afternoon and evening with his family. But, early in the morning hours, his younger sister heard him seizing, she ran to get her parents. The ambulance arrived, he continued to have the seizures. He got to the hospital but nothing could be done for him. His sweet little heart couldn't withstand what was happening to his body. He died. I thought my son and I had suffered, I can't even begin to understand the shock and suffering this little boy's sister, parents and grandparents experienced and the pain they will have to deal with for the rest of their lives!
I digress to say, in our case, some wonderful friends continued to text me and call me concerning my son's healing. We felt their love and prayers; they pulled us through the darkness into the light, there was hope amidst the suffering! I am also sure that the comforting arms of loved ones will help my friend's in their time of loss. My husband told me that there were other couples at the child's funeral who had also lost children. These people understood the enormity of the pain and suffering that only a parent who has a lost a child would know. Their love reflected the hope that someday my friends will be able to work through their suffering, they will survive their child and grandchild's death. This is Christ's love, reflected through the love of His body, to help put the pieces back together again.
Suffering also comes in other forms; it can come from those closest to us, those in the Church, those who we trust and believe are part of the body of Christ. You know, people let us down. We have differences of opinions, differences in ideologies, philosophies, theologies... But, when these differences arise, we each know we are right, right?
How we handle these differences can cause others heart wounds, wounds that run deep; we accuse a person's character when we disagree with them because we want to appear right. We form judgments; we hurl accusations against those who differ from us... they just don't line up with what we believe is right! But wait, have we thought that as we suffer to appear right, they are suffering from our judgments and accusations? Where is the light? Where is the love? How is this kind of suffering redeemed?
I was reading the Gospels of Luke and John yesterday and trying to put Jesus into each of the situations above. What did Jesus do for us, how did he suffer for us?
Jesus was denied by Peter three times; how could the denial of his love and friendship have made Jesus feel? It probably wounded his heart, it was a betrayal at the core of who he was. Peter, the one Jesus later said, "upon whom he would build his church." As he was taken to the cross, the crowd hurled accusations at him, they spit on him, they mocked him! Jesus took it all for us; he knew that there would be times in our lives that we would do the same thing to others or that we would receive the mocking ourselves. He suffered so that our suffering would not go unnoticed, it would be forgiven and healed!
We live in a very fallen world; suffering happens, it comes in all forms. But Jesus came into this fallen world, as a man, who experienced just like us, all the suffering the world could throw at him! He knows our pain, He says to give it to Him.
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly of heart, and you can find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:28-29
We suffer as He suffered, but, "He has taken our pain and borne our suffering, He was crushed for our iniquities and the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him!" Isaiah 53: 4-5
Go to Jesus with your pain and suffering, what you need He has already paid for. His everlasting sacrifice was made because of His love for you, it will satisfy all that you need! ..."who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20. His everlasting love will fill all the craters of loss or holes made from fear and pain. I pray for each of you today that He will fill your hearts with the light of his resurrection and that His hands will massage your heart back to life. Receive His healing love now.
In Jesus name. Amen.
"Speak now or forever hold your peace." 1662 Anglican Book of Common Prayer