*sigh* Suffering is hard.
If you’re human, you’ve suffered. Some suffer in the moment (a broken arm); some of us suffer for years (chronic pain or illness) and some, well, for a lifetime (a broken heart). Our suffering is not just about pain (physical or otherwise), it’s about losing or being denied something–playing outside with friends, breasts from cancer…the presence of a child or spouse.
Right now, my friend is suffering with that last loss. Her husband has been ripped out of her life. No warning. No explainations. She was hit so hard, so unexpectedly, by this tragedy that the rest of us in her life got bruised by it, too.
And while we do what we can–stand by, trying to offer words of comfort (when there really aren’t any); send the memories we hold of her beloved (that are bittersweet to recieve, I’m sure); offer to pray for her and her boys… Our words, thoughts, prayers seem so shallow in comparison to the depth of her loss.
We say, “You are not alone.” When she is living in a place where pain is fused with anger and sits hand in hand with grief; where love and loss compete for her every thought, and the foundation of faith can break under all the weight. Our words are almost offensive.
Because the thing about deep suffering is that it happens in the solitary places of the soul. On the outside, my friend is still living her life –going to work, loving her kids, making dinner and doing laundry. So, the soul, the keeper of the inner life, holds all the suffering, like a deep well waiting to be drawn from…
As I have been praying for my friend, I have wrestled with hard questions: I want to know where was God? Why did He, our loving, good God, allow this to happen? Did He hear us in the days before? Begging, pleading, asking for a miracle? Did He even try to intervene?
And while I have no answers, He has been good to remind me of several things and reveal one very special thing to me. I am reminded that He is close to the broken hearted, He puts the lonely in families, He is good, He is relentless in how He pursues His people, He never gives up on us. And yes, He sits in our solitary places with us.
The revelation? Suffering is part of the human condition–but not because it is inately human, it’s actually inately Divine. When we suffer, God draws near. When we suffer–experience loss and are denied what we love–we see a glimpse of the Father’s own suffering and the life that Jesus lived. We experience God in us.
Our God is a suffering god. Jesus knew loneliness, abandonment, cruelty. He knows what it’s like to love and not be loved back; to be loved poorly and to be hurt by the ones He loves.
And because of this, He is uniquely qualified to bind our wounds. He knows that healing takes time–and He’s willing to give it. He knows that healing hurts and He knows that healing leaves scars.
My friend will survive her suffering because she will lean on the Great Physician who also had the condition. She will have a scar from this but she knows Jesus has scars too. And I know one day she will be the salve to someone else’s bruise.
I am walking away with a new perspective–while I don’t want to suffer, it will come. Life happens, kitten. And when it does I will look for God in it and He will be found. He is good. He is close. And He loves us through it all.