"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." -Emerson

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Why does God allow suffering?

Today, at Sunday School we discussed the age old question of suffering and why a loving God would allow such a thing. It was one of those things I did not want to hear today. The husband was deployed with just 2 days notice to assist in the Haiti efforts. He just got back from his last deployment less than a month ago. He had deployed for the past 6 out of 8 months. I have never physically felt shock like I have the last couple of days. I've never felt such intense emotional numbness. I felt like I was sucker punched in the gut. I've been running on empty for quite some time now, and was excited about having my husband back in the mix. But, God had a different plan, I guess.

So, this topic of suffering was talked about. Why do we suffer? How do we deal with suffering? I know the "answers" to these questions. But, today, I just wanted to be sad. I just wanted to mourn my losses and not hear "it could always be worse..." This past year has been a series of unending suffering in my life. Everytime I get up, I feel a wave crashing over me, bringing me to the point of drowning. I have felt like a modern day Job.

I didn't want to hear any of it. But, I sat there and I listened and I listened to all the reasons people thought God allowed suffering and all the reasons people said we reacted to it. And then as I was sitting there, I said to God, "I'm empty." And I heard him say, "That's the answer."

Suffering empties us. It takes away every ounce of fight we have in order that it can be replaced with something. Some people don't try to replace it with anything, so they stay empty. Some people try to replace it with the wrong things, so they find more suffering. And some of us try as much as we can to fill it with God. It still stings. It still is broken. But, there is something to hold the pieces together.

Suffering also brings understanding of Christ and if we are Christians, this would be our ultimate goal. Just think about all the ways Christ suffered: physical pain, emotional brokenness, loneliness, rejection, fear, seperation, persecution, starvation, temptation, and more. Every time we go through suffering in our own lives we get a glimpse of that fateful day in which He suffered.

Tonight, like many of you, I watched more suffering of those in Haiti. My stomach still feeling like I had been punched in the gut, but a wave of peace pushed through. I know my suffering is nothing in comparison to those people right now. But, I also know that God is collecting all our tears and will list every tear on his scroll.

I've heard this verse over and over again this past year and I can't say that I really like it, but I can say that I am finally starting to understand it:
"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."
Romans 5:3-4
The thing I've found is that through every suffering, I keep going. I don't know how I am doing it sometimes because there is nothing left in me that is pushing forward. And from that, I've found that I am a bare bones person. The petty things that once would be such a huge part of my life are washed away. I have forgiven people in ways I never could before. So much of the negativity of others just doesn't matter like it used to. And I keep having hope. Hope that God will give me a season of peace. Hope that my God is keeping record of every tear shed. Hope that this world is temporary.
I didn't want to hear it today. But, I know He wanted me too...
Here's to listening to the things you don't want to...
Until next time,


Lindsay (aka Linz) said...

My heart breaks for you, Catherine. I can't imagine there's anything I could say or do to make it any better...but I will pray for you, my dear friend. I love you.

Ames Mama said...

hugs from me to you. prayers always!

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