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