Of Suffering

The subject of suffering has come up multiple times this week.  I feel this is something the Lord wants me to process and what better place than here, on my blog?  Suffering.  What is it?  Is it necessary?  Why/Why not?  What good could possibly come from pain?  What do we do with our pain–specifically, how are we, as God’s treasured, redeemed children, to respond to suffering?  How do we bring glory to God through our trials?

According to dictionary.com “suffer” is defined as “to undergo or feel pain or distress”; “to sustain injury, disadvantage, or loss”; or “to endure pain, disability, death, etc., patiently or willingly”.

Defined from personal experience, suffering is any painful trial that brings me to the end of myself, my coping skills, and my own reserves.  My list of examples would include loss of home and property, cancer, death, financial stress, rebellious children, weight gain, physical, emotional, or spiritual injury, persecutions, unemployment…the list could go on and on.

People suffer for different reasons; we know that  we suffer the consequences of our own personal choices (i.e. if I choose to eat junk and not exercise, I’m going to gain weight and feel yucky), and sometimes, we suffer from the bad choices of others (i.e. rebellious children who know better, but choose to disregard wisdom, and embrace folly…this causes many a parent to suffer, sometimes to the point of suffering the loss of a wayward child), but often bad things happen to good people who have done nothing wrong (i.e. Job).  Why would a good person suffer, while the wicked prosper?  This is an age-old question, asked by the best of scholars, philosophers, and saints:  Job (Job 21), King David (Psalm 73), Solomon (Ecclesiastes 4, 7), to name a few, all wondered at the sovereignty of God that would allow the righteous to suffer, and the unrighteous to prosper.

And, don’t we all ask this question at one time or another?  We don’t know WHY we suffer.  We can’t wrap our heads around why God allows the things He does, and this is not a surprise to Him, because He tells us in Isaiah 55

8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

When I was caring for my terminally ill parents, my Momma and I had some sweet, deep conversations about God’s will.  I told her at one point, “this is not the way I would have written this story“, to which she wisely replied “Well, honey, you are not the Author.”  Momma knew her Lord, and she knew His word, and I believe He gave her a special, personal glimpse into His perfect will that allowed such a profound word to be spoken in due season. 

As I look at the subject of suffering, it becomes clear to me that my thoughts are going to take up way more than just one blog post.  This looks like a good place to stop.  TBC…