A Heart Thing to Consider

My comfortable life is in jeopardy.

In Christianity there’s this often-overlooked, seldom-preached, rarely-lived theology of suffering. In the Bible it’s sometimes called the “fellowship of suffering” or “sharing in Christ’s suffering.” Faithful Bible readers — I’d consider myself one — know this, maybe even have a verse or two on suffering memorized.

I would agree, most days, that Christians will have to suffer. That Christians do suffer. But I don’t expect this, or embrace it, or seek it, in my own life.

After all, nobody really wants to suffer, right? I’ll say it: I don’t want to suffer. But does that mean I’m rejecting a part of Christ? And can I reject a part of Him and not reject the whole?

Here’s another confession: I avoid suffering whenever possible. This shows itself in little things like holding my son at arm’s length because I don’t want his grimy, supper-slathered hands touching my clothes. (Shallow and vain, don’t you think?) That’s hardly suffering, but in this land of comfort, anything that disrupts the status quo or the appearance of having it all together, we count as suffering.

My attitude when things go wrong indicates how I view suffering. God, heal my back. Lord, make my son’s fever go away. Jesus, provide for this need. Much rarer is the prayer during suffering, Lord, make me more like You through this. Teach me, Lord. Show me something new about Yourself.

I feel bombarded lately with images of suffering.

Like this article I read on human trafficking. (Warning: It’s a disturbing read. I am saddened, disgusted and longing for a world where this is NO ONE’s normal.)

Or this Facebook post from an AP reporter in Somalia.

And the catalyst to this self-analyzation: I read a book about adoption. (Come back Monday, Aug. 1 for the review.) My husband and I once considered adoption, before we were married or had our two kids. It’s still in the back of our minds, but after reading this book, I wanted to run from the possibility. I don’t need family life to be harder, I thought. I don’t want my marriage to suffer because of tension over an adopted child’s needs. I don’t want my children to feel overlooked or neglected.

And the “I” list went on and on.

But the families who shared their stories said they wouldn’t trade all the difficulties, the suffering, for the child who was now a part of their lives.

Suffering does not go unrewarded.

In the grand scheme of things, I have not suffered much. But the times I have suffered have also been times of deepened spiritual awareness. Close times with God. Renewed human relationships. Visible expressions of glory not my own.

I don’t know the future, what sufferings I will or won’t experience.

It’s naive to think I will never suffer, or never again suffer, so I’m praying now for the strength and grace to endure whatever form suffering takes.

And because I don’t know how to end this ramble, I leave you with a song I can’t get out my head.




2 thoughts on “A Heart Thing to Consider

  1. I’m excited to read the review on the book regarding adoption. The very reason we want to adopt is because it’s hard, or rather, because few people can deal with the baggage brought on by those children, preteens & teens who have been abused, shuffled around and taught that they ar nothing and that they better lash out before they get close b/c everyone will hurt them.
    I’ve seen it so much firsthand, the boys at Sophie’s loved Zach just because he was an adult male figure and he was nice. So many people who attempt to foster and/or adopt burn out not because they don’t love the kids but because there is SO much else there that it feels like every step forward comes with ten steps backward. Zach being able to heal as much as he has in the short amount of time that he has gives him this amazing perspective into the lives of others. I bring the practical-like negotiating doors being locked but not trapped and us being able to get in if needed but somehow monitored so there is evidence of who’s been in a room (since many abuse victims later accuse others falsely) and hiding knives and that sort of thing along with Love of course 🙂
    And all that suffering that they bring along on their backs and in their hearts is the reason that I decided that I want to stay at home (something I never thought I would want) to be stable and consistent.

    Okay, wellllll, I just went off on quite the tangent, but ANYWAY, I like the view on suffering. I do want to add though that Zach and I both kind of learned that we all have to be careful on comparing sufferings. By that I mean that something that is just an ordinary inconvenience for someone else can be a panic attack for me or like I’ve seen stuff that sends me swirling into a deep depression(esp. when my med’s aren’t right) would be something that Zach would just push through and be a little annoyed at. More seriously person A could experience trauma from a divorce in the same manner that person B experiences physical or sexual abuse. This is not meant to down play any serious abuses, some of the things I’ve read on female circumcision, the manner in which AIDS is/was treated in some countries, and the blood diamond wars have made me literally become sick. I think one amazing thing about some survivors of those situations is that they don’t judge others for feeling abused or traumatized by something that most would judge as less important and that is what I mean.

    oops, another tangent. Who woulda thought *I* would have that problem 😉

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