It’s a word that drips pain.
I don’t like it.
I was born with a sunny disposition. I love to smile. And crack a joke.
Suffering doesn’t hold my hand well.
When it does its grip is too hard.
I want to let go. I tell it to leave me alone. To find another who likes it more than I do.
But it persists claiming to be my friend. It tells me I must embrace the pain for my growth.
I say, “who needs growth”. I’m fine with short.
But it replies, “not growth in stature but in your inner man”.
I can’t be sad.
No one will want to play with me.I won’t have anything to bring to the party.
Suffering is not for me.
I am strong. I am independent. I don’t want to hold its hand.
“If you let me I will walk with you. I will lead you through the valley. You will not be alone.”
“I am not going that way”. I reply.
“I have found another road. I can do it all by myself”.
I have my dignity to think about.
What will people say if I hold suffering’s hand and stumble down the rocky path into the valley?
I will have nothing left if I go.
But the road that I choose dead ends and I have to go back.
There stands suffering once again. Waiting for me.
I hesitate wondering if I should try another way.
But suffering reaches out its hand and I slowly grab hold.
Ouch! It hurts! I start to cry.
“Why must you squeeze so hard”? I moan.
As we navigate the rocky path I struggle to see through my hot tears.
“I don’t like this. Please let go”. I beg.
But suffering holds on.
And I weep.
I am thirsty so I ask for a drink.
Suffering offers me a cup.
But the liquid is bitter. I spit it out.
I feel no hunger as the pain envelopes me.
We stop for the night but I can’t sleep and tears drench my clothing. I am sure I won’t make it to morning.
The night is long. I cry until the tears no longer come. It hurts my skin to be touched. I wonder if morning will ever come.
And then slowly, slowly the light breaks a crack in the sky. I have made it through the dark night. I look back and wonder how I came so far.
It is then I recognize I am still holding the hand of suffering.
It’s not gone.
But it doesn’t hurt as much as it did yesterday.
The strangeness of this is even though I am spent in my emotions I feel stronger in my spirit.
As I stand suffering stands with me.
I feel its tight grip and I still wince.
But the new day gives me new hope.
I know my tears aren’t through.
But the hand of suffering isn’t as scary as it used to be.
I know it will be hard.
But my inner man is growing.
And I can say it is well with my soul.
I am beginning to understand more clearly what Paul writes..”when I am weak then I am strong“.
~NLT II COR 12
5 That experience is worth boasting about, but I’m not going to do it. I will boast only about my weaknesses. 6 If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, 7 even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.
8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
We will all experience suffering in this life.
It will look different for each of us.
The question is not will we but when we go through the valley how will we respond.
Will we allow it to grow us up or make us slide off into the pit?
To be as Paul understanding that in our weakness, in our persecution, in our trial, God can be made strong through us. This is the way it was meant to be.
God shows us his glory when we allow him to be Glorified through our suffering.
Becoming like him in his death and rising again in his power.
It’s the path of the Christian.
And in the end there will be a big party and I will skip and dance and smile. I’m sure there will be need for a joke and some light-hearted banter. And at that party my Jesus will be the guest of honor and in his hand will be healing and life. His words will be sweet. And his laughter will be deep and rich. He will pass out crowns and we will throw them down at his feet praising the one who saved us from the grip of death.
And he will wipe away all our tears and there will be no more sorrow.
How I long for that day.
The day when we will say goodbye to suffering forever.
But for today I must take suffering by the hand and allow it to make me stronger for tomorrow.