Monday, August 22, 2011

I'm not "supposed" to say this.

I don't "get" suffering.

There.  I said it.
I don't "get" suffering, and I don't know what to do with it.

I know I'm not supposed to say that out loud -- that I'm supposed to have a complete understanding of sin and brokenness and God's mercy and plan for restoration -- but there it is.

I just don't know what to do with suffering.

I know this is one of those big issues that keep people at an arm's length (or longer) from the Lord, and it pains me.  It pains me that people don't know His comfort, but it also pains me that I cannot adequately explain to them why there is suffering.

And before you comment, please know that I know the "right" answers.  And a part of me "gets it."  But the part of me that doesn't get it is the part who looks into the eyes of another human being and sees their suffering.  The part of me that doesn't get it is the part who sees a friend wounded after yet another miscarriage and doesn't know how she will process yet another one of her friends getting pregnant.  Or the friend who is so lonely, she could scream as she watches all of her other friends find love. Or the friend who can't even get pregnant, no matter how hard she tries and tries and tries.  Or the friend whose mother died from cancer before my friend entered into her late 20s.  I don't know what to do with the suffering of my friends.  I cannot explain it to them because I cannot explain it to myself.

Because the reality is that although I have struggled with very difficult things, on the whole, my life is pretty good.  I come from an awesome, loving Christian family.  I am married to an amazingly supportive, Christian man.  I have a beautiful, healthy daughter.  I myself am very healthy.  The list of "good things" in my life goes on and on.  So I guess people could look at my life and say, "Of course she believes in God.  Look at her life."

But the friend who might have cancer and doesn't have the insurance or money to get the treatment she needs?  - I can't blame her for not believing.  The friend who has feelings for the same gender but has been ostracized by every church he's ever stepped into?  I can't blame him for turning his back on God either.

Because the reality is that I'm not in their shoes and I cannot speak directly to their suffering.
And I cannot adequately explain suffering to these people, because I can barely stomach it myself.

And there are also those whom I've never even met who struggle even more.  The mom who has to work three jobs and can barely feed her children because she also has to pay for daycare and rent.  The child who was sold into slavery so he could make the sneakers and shirts that I mindlessly wear every day.  The young woman who has been kidnapped, bribed, and forced into the sex industry.  The many, many people in the world who have no access to clean water.  The people who have been forever misplaced due to catastrophic, natural disasters.  These are people I don't know, but I know I could not look them in the eye and tell them why they have to suffer.

It pains me.

And although I know that there is a God who weeps alongside them -- although I know that Christ came down to earth in order to bring about redemption of the world -- although I know that the world will be restored to the Good that the Father originally intended -- although I know that the Holy Spirit provides very real, tangible comfort to those who suffer -- although I know all these things... will they?  Will they ever know?

And who can explain it to them if they don't?

Maybe you've got it better than me.  Maybe you understand it better and can explain it in a way that makes sense to these people.  But the reality is: I can't.  So I'm gonna stop wondering how, and keep doing the only thing that makes sense to me: weep.

I will weep with these people, but I will never try to explain their suffering.
Because I just don't get it.

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