Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Suffering

I'm doing hard work today.  Important work.  Urgent work, really.  Which of course is why I'm writing a blog post instead of tending to the work.  But sometimes an initial stream-of-consciousness-processing is what it takes to make the work flow.  Since this past summer when a close friend was diagnosed with breast cancer, God has impressed on my heart to draw nearer and lean into an understanding of godly suffering.  What does that look like?  How do we as believers suffer in a way that points a skeptical, jaded world to Him?  How do we accept hardship, grow from it, even possibly worship in the midst of it?  I didn't want to be the one to show up after my friend's mastectomy and give her the trite, "God won't give us more than we can handle."  I wanted to know deeply in my soul and bones that God was good, and I wanted to be able to rely on what I knew of Him to provide me with the responses needed while walking through suffering.

Not coincidentally, I started reading Tim Keller's Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering shortly before Bear's week-long hospital stay and stint with pneumonia.  I found that I relished the blessings of that week: a Christian doctor who prayed with us, countless family and friends showing up and being the body of Christ, a mom and mother-in-law who swarmed in and took over for my girls, a clear echo cardiogram, meals provided upon our return home, cards, emails, and text messages that touched my heart deeply.  What a beautiful taste of heaven it was.  When I was incapable, I was able to sit back and see the stunning bride for all she is.  This, people, is church.  The body of Christ caring for a weak, sick, or broken member.  Nursing us along in our inability.  Encouraging us, pushing us back to health.



And such a valuable reminder of practical things which are truly spiritual.

Case in point: food.  My beautiful friend who met me upon our return home with groceries and dinner.  And others who cared for us that way.  I felt so loved and was reminded of the importance of my role as a stay-at-home mom to love others the same way.

There is no occasion when meals should become totally unimportant.  Meals can be very small indeed, very inexpensive, short times taken in the midst of a big push of work, but they should be always more than just food."    --Edith Schaeffer
Which brings me back to this important work.  I'm writing a Bible study.  On suffering.   Because of my friend's journey with breast cancer, I was introduced to a beautiful soul, Kara Tippetts.  (You can follow her story on her blog Mundane Faithfulness.)  Kara has written about her own cancer story and the fight and struggle to find grace and God's goodness in the midst of it in her book The Hardest Peace, which is what I'm using to develop the core of my study.  Her broken honesty inspires the hardest of hearts, and even now as I write this, she struggles for her last few days on this earth, seeking to praise in each moment.  Oh what do I know of suffering?  I have sometimes cranky toddlers who make messes, skip naps, are ungrateful, and are loud and rambunctious at the library.  Seriously.  Those are the things that brought me to tears yesterday.  How can I possibly write a Bible study on suffering when a soul like Kara is about to leave this world and leave behind four beautiful young children and one faithful man?  When my friend has walked her own cancer story yet grieves the recent loss of both her in-laws and daily finds grace in caring for her son with special needs?  How can I possibly write about suffering when I have every need met?  When I live in such comfort?  When we are blessed with such health?  With family and friends who love and support us?  How can I possibly write?  Write.



I am not qualified.  This is true.  And so, I lay myself down at the foot of the cross today and look to the only One who can provide the words I so desperately need.  The words the women in my Bible study so desperately long for.  His Word that quenches every thirst, satisfies every hunger.  The Word who became flesh and dwelled among us that we might become qualified.  That I might be qualified.  To write.  So this morning, I do that.  I read and re-read and edit.  And ask the Word to be alive in me and through me that many might find Him in their hurt and suffering.  That this world that can never satisfy pushes us into our brokenness, to our edges, and causes us to lay it all down at the foot of the cross.  To seek a greater peace, an everlasting hope, as we become like Him in our suffering.



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