For the last several months, it seems like everywhere I turn there is an incredible amount of suffering going on.  It hasn’t been directly in my life, but I’ve been on the periphery of it and sometimes my view has been much closer than at others.  I don’t really feel like there actually is more suffering going on, but maybe my proximity to it has increased or my awareness of it has been heightened.  Anyway, I was reading something earlier that just made it all wash over me again.  Well, it wasn’t so much like a nice shower.  It was more like a levee breaking and sucking me underwater.  And I am not the world’s best swimmer. 

People my age diagnosed with deadly cancer.

Babies dying within a few hours of birth because of severe defects.

Tragic family accidents resulting in death.

Rare diseases crippling young bodies and requiring immediate organ transplants for survival.

Tumors in the heart that disguised themselves as a heart attack. 

Failed adoptions.

Infants dying of SIDS.

They aren’t supposed to make caskets that small.  People in their twenties aren’t supposed to have to worry about whether they can have children someday because their body is preparing for the hell they call chemotherapy. 

But all of these things happen every day on this planet.

I’m not writing this because I’m trying to give some explanation for suffering in our world.  Hopefully you know me better than that at this point.  I am writing this because I am not quite sure how I would be handling life if I was the one actually going through any of the situations I just mentioned. 

I think the thing that continues to amaze me as I observe (and I say observe because I truly believe that suffering is holy ground that others not involved can never fully understand) some of these individuals and families who are experiencing such intense grief is the way they are fighting to trust God in the midst of the suffering.  Every day.  They refuse to give up, even though they don’t have the answers to their questions and the pain doesn’t go away.  They are holding on with everything they have because they believe that He is their only hope.  They believe He is Life, even in death.  Especially in death.

And I wonder whether I would have the same faith if the situation were reversed.  I’ve definitely had a few experiences where I was walking the path all by myself, experiencing pain that others couldn’t understand.  But I will not profess to have experienced anything near the tragedies that I’m talking about right now.  And I pray that I don’t have to go through any of the horrific experiences that I’ve watched unfold in the lives of so many others lately.  But I know it could happen. 

And it’s because I know just how fragile I am that I wonder whether I would just crumble in a heap if it did.  Would I fall into despair and hopelessness?  Would I let my unceasing questions fester into wounded bitterness and resentment?  Or, would I grip onto my Savior like never before?  Would I learn what it really means to abide?  Would I learn what it meant to live for eternity and not this world? 

On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever.  The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth.  The Lord has spoken.  In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him and he saved us.  This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”  (Isaiah 25:7-9)

On that day, I want to be counted among those who say, “It’s You!  The One I trusted when everything went upside down.  The One I believed was faithful when my faith was hanging on by a thread.  The One I kept stumbling toward in the dark.  Surely you are my God.  The One I trusted.  The One who saved me.”