Wednesday, April 13, 2011

When We Are Wounded

I've had suffering on the mind this week. I've heard from a few friends, some are personal friends and some from blogging, who are going through really difficult stuff and it's been weighty to sit with.

From the sudden death of a spouse at a very young age (the unimaginable pain), to family members with cancer, to difficulties conceiving, to children with severe disabilities, sometimes it seems too much to bear. It's in these moments I want to cry out for Christ's return.

I've been so honored to listen to the hearts of these suffering friends who are choosing thankfulness and trust. One friend going through an extremely difficult time wrote,
Jesus died so that we could have the freedom from sin, but also freedom from living a slave to our suffering and pain. There is hope for eternal life, so I "transcend my circumstances" by choosing to focus on those things I am grateful for not on those things I feel were taken from me.
Amazing. I'm so thankful for how God is revealing himself to her, and that she's willing to share that.

It reminded me of something I read in Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter:
The Christian must not only accept suffering, he must make it holy. Nothing so easily becomes unholy as suffering.
Merely accepted, suffering does nothing for our souls except, perhaps, to harden them. Endurance alone is no consecration...
Suffering is consecrated to God by faith - not faith in suffering, but by faith in God...
For Jesus is not merely someone who loved us enough to die for us. His love is the infinite love of God, which is stronger than all evil and cannot be touched by death.
(Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter, p.43)

There is no way to wrap up a nice little blog post on the reality of suffering; I'm not trying to do that. This is just an open reflection on my recent thoughts.

The truth is that we may never know answers or reasons behind the pain we experience. The only thing we can do is look to Jesus, the true suffering servant. Oswald Chambers says, "We can never fully comprehend Christ’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane..."
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
(from Isaiah 53, known as the Suffering Servant passage)

Yes, suffering is on my mind this week as we continue in the approach towards Easter. It marks the most tragic event in history (but we know that's only part of it). It reminds us of extreme and unimaginable suffering.

How incredible to worship a Savior who did not just come as a kingly figure for us to emulate, out of reach, unattainably elevated, but came as the lowliest of servants, stricken with the most horrific of pain.

Though hard to imagine in the midst of devastation, not one of God's people will ever experience a pain greater than that which he felt when the weight of the world's sin was upon Calvary's cross. He understands our deepest sufferings, and stands with us in it - even carries us through it.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

And though sometimes hard to believe, it is truth: Even when we may not see or feel Him, He carries us.