“We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.”
― C.S. Lewis,
I’ve been thinking about suffering these days.
There are different kinds of suffering. I just read one pastor who cataloged 14 different kinds of suffering he found in the Bible. That’s a lot of heartache. It’s impossible to divorce the Christian life from suffering. It’s almost impossible to find someone in the Bible who didn’t experience suffering. Suffering has always been a part of the life of faith. I suspect it always will be.
We can experience misery as the result of consequences, such as bad behavior or selfishness.
- When people have to go to prison for breaking the law
- A student fails a class because he stopped attending or didn’t hand in assignments
- A family falls apart because neither spouse will give in
But the kind of suffering I have been thinking about is the kind that happens to people out of the blue, when someone experiences terrible harm for no reason at all other than because they live here on earth with others.
- A drunk driver kills a family in another car
- A child is diagnosed with an incurable cancer
- The economy shifts and your father loses his job all of a sudden
- An innocent victim is sexually assaulted
It doesn’t seem like the same degree of suffering if its somehow deserved. There’s got to be a different word. To me, what makes it real suffering is that the people who live the experience have done absolutely nothing to deserve it. Horror and pain sometimes fall without reason on innocent people. That’s suffering.
“The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.”
– Psalm 34:19
There is no immunity from trouble, from suffering. Even people who are living right, end up suffering. How will God come to the rescue? So often, it’s not the way we planned or fast enough. But He is near to the brokenhearted. When we walk through the valley of shadows He provides visible comfort. His Holy Spirit has been sent to walk with us so that we will never be alone, never be afraid, never feel abandoned. Through every dark night there waits a sunrise.
“The Lord has turned all our sunsets into sunrise” – Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD)