Thursday, February 8, 2007

Celebrate suffering?

I don't understand.
I'm not even in Bolivia yet, and I already don't get it. People are suffering - the poor are hungry, the desperate are trapped in prostitution, the lost are without hope.
But suffering doesn't just begin and end in El Alto.
It is here. It is now. Today, my hairdresser spilled her guts to me about her abusive, alcoholic husband. I listened and stared at her intently, through the curtain of hair in front of my eyes. I know people who are dissatisfied with their job at this very moment. Yesterday, cancer robbed my classmate of her life as a newlywed, and my dear friend of his wife.

Hurt. Disappointment. Death. Pain. Sadness. Discouragement. Frustration. Helplessness.
We can try to escape the reality of suffering, but it's only possible if we choose not to look. (Daphne Eck)

And yet, Jesus "woos us to places we normally wouldn't go, and somehow makes those places beautiful. Love beckons us and ruins us forever. We see; we proclaim that all is not right in the world; we cry out to God; we choose to be a neighbor to those who suffer; we pray and sit with them. Suffering is only redemptive when Love is present." (taken from The Cry: Suffering, by Daphne Eck)

Love's ways are hard, steep, and wounding. "For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure, then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor, into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears." (Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet)

There is completeness in our suffering. Laughter is truly genuine - when we smile, we smile with all we've got. Weeping replaces empty words - when we cry, the tears flow freely. Nothing is half-hearted, and it's all accounted for.

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book." -Psalm 56:8

Word Made Flesh Lifestyle Celebration #9: Suffering


Kev said...

I deeply identify with your questions, and thoughts, on suffering. This is something I have been thinking a lot about. I have hardly come to any "conclusions" AND I have comet o be okay with that. What i do know is that suffering draws into Jesus, where we see him in a way we never have, and have honest conversations with him like we never would've. Not really a favorite way to be stretched, but it definitely works.

ryanmortinson said...

yancey does a great job with the topic of suffering in "where is God when it hurts?".

PS. i just gave myself beardburn on my arm and it stings.

Stefanie said...

My dear friend!! :)

Thank you for these wise words, sweet girl. Your thoughts resonate with mine in SO many ways today, it's amazing! :) The culmination of emotional and physical strain over the past few days has given me a refresher course in this term "suffering" - what with illness, feeling pain for others, sadness, the weight of being under spiritual siege. BLEH! I'm totally done with it, and Eck says, suffering is redemptive when love is present. :) And it TOTALLY is!! :) Amidst the siege, I feel so much peace in the reality that I've been "ruined by love forever" - by people that care for me, of course, but even more by my Heavenly Father. I'm allowing myself to be "carried", which is such good practice for me. :) I wonder what the Lord is preparing me for....Ok, that's all! :) Just wanted you to know that I LOVE YOU!! Keep sharing your smarty-pants thoughts on this blog thing. Talk to you soon.