I want to say it loudly: the claim that you will always feel God’s peace during suffering is a myth. No matter how mature a Christian you are, sometimes you suffer and God feels desperately absent. Sometimes there’s an explanation in hindsight. Sometimes there’s a lesson learned from it. But sometimes there’s just silence and mystery.
Tag Archives | Suffering
We weren’t made to be the stars of our own shows, to think that we are the only people that exist; but to play out this thing called life with the rest of the humans on the planet. Not just the ones we like, the ones that are like us, or the ones who are nearby. We can’t let distance rob us of our humanity.
Sometimes life is like that. We have joy, but in a minor key. This life mixes up the best and beautiful with the ugly and evil of the world, and sometimes they play at the same time. As I approach Advent, the season of waiting and in-between, I want to be honest about the joy and the sorrow together.
It is a natural response to want to creep back into the safety of our tribes, to draw lines about what makes us ‘us’, and them ‘them’, but it is not the way of love. Love crosses boundaries and borders; it dares to stare people in the eye and love them for their personhood, their humanity.
God is love, through and through – daring, defiant, powerful love. God calls us to love others in the way that God alone loves: seeing them truly, loving them entirely.
But just because we understand where our pain comes from and how it has affected us, and even forgiven our offender, does not mean it disappears. This is the problem with self-help, visualization techniques, and daily affirmations; they are not bad per se, but we often try to apply them to deeper issues that will not have a magic wand waved over them.
Whenever I’m feeling the sense of shame of not achieving as much as I would have liked, I remind myself that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing badly. Change often comes through lots of people doing small things imperfectly.
Have you noticed that the Church often talks about grief in the same way that we often talk about illness and other forms of suffering? We expect people to just “get over it,” that if they believe hard enough, all will be well.
But God was there, at the edges, in every one of these homes. I couldn’t always see him straight on. He was in the neighbor who gave me safe harbor, the sister who prayed with me, the teacher who called social services.
All the odds were against me, against my survival, but God kept showing up.