I was reading a book by Joni Eareckson Tata this morning. There was an interesting statement in the book that I totally agreed with I just hadn’t put it into words. The paraphrase is that in our lives we seek to put an end to our suffering or mask it in some way. We hate suffering. But she was saying that suffering is what leads us to understand that we cannot do this life alone. We need God and we need those around us. When we have physical suffering we seek pain relief, medical science has come to the place where we, for the most part, don’t have to suffer. If we are suffering mentally or emotionally we have pills for that too. We medicate even positive suffering like childbirth. No one has natural childbirth anymore, why would you want to?
With my last child I decided to go to a birth center and have a natural child birth. I did it. I survived natural child birth and lived to tell about it. I also learned something. I appreciate my birth and those moments after birth so much more with that baby than with my medicated childbirths. The suffering brought me great satisfaction and peacefulness after it was over. I had a sense of accomplishment and now I know I can handle a great deal and survive it. I think in our efforts to numb any suffering in our lives, we cheat ourselves. We never experience all we are meant to experience in our suffering. We need suffering to experience true joy and dependence on God. We walk around thinking we have it all together and we can do things on our own. If we allowed ourselves to experience suffering in our lives we would have no illusions that we can handle everything on our own. We need suffering.
There are times in our lives when we cannot numb the suffering. Times when we try everything we can and it still doesn’t work, the suffering continues. My children will always have special needs, we cannot change that. I would like to, I would love for them to be “normal”, but they cannot be. Not here on this earth anyway. And I have asked many times why God would allow them to have these limitations, and why he would give them to us to raise? It’s not easy. It’s suffering, at times. We hate their disabilities sometimes, we never hate the child, but we do hate the limitations that their disabilities impose on them. I would give anything to not deal with that some days. But God has allowed this. I realize that He is working something in us through this suffering. I have prayed and hoped that this suffering might be relieved, but I won’t anymore. God has a reason for this and if I cut it short prematurely whatever he is working will not be fully realized.
If you are suffering today, know that God is working something in your life. Don’t try to get away from the suffering, don’t try to numb it away. Let it work in you and lean fully on God and those around you. You will be better for it.