This is a tender subject. It’s a really tough one. It’s tough because I’ve been in the pit of being as prideful as I could in my pain, and it’s a temptation to go back there. I could go back there. Quickly.
I want you to step back in time with me for a moment. My husband’s mom passed away quickly from stage 4 ovarian cancer. She was diagnosed in March and passed away in the middle of May. Our daughter was born exactly one month after her death nine weeks early and surprised us with a diagnosis of Down Syndrome. Ten months later I was on bedrest with our second son for 3 weeks in the hospital. He was born. Lived for one day and passed away. By the time our son passed away I had had enough. Pain felt like it was just a constant companion. It felt like no one had experienced as much as I had, and I had every right to compare with friends and carry my burden for all to see.
I had a falling out with a friend while I was pregnant with our second daughter, and our husbands met up one night to talk about the situation. Her husband said to mine, “How can we compare pain when we are all experiencing something different? We’re all in pain. We live in a sinful world. It just looks different for everyone.” There’s truth in that.
When my husband came home that night and told me that statement, I was sobered. I had a lot to think about.
Fast forward years and learning, reading, listening to Piper, Chandler, Grudem, Tripp and Fitzpatrick and reading, Ruth, Jonah, Job, Genesis and Paul (which is 2/3 of the New Testament). Christian classics, like, Stepping Heavenward and Hinds Feet on High Places. The list goes on and on.
Through all of this time, I’d wake up in cold sweats and fear of something happening to our children or to my husband. I thought, “Jesus can’t carry me through something like that. He’s not enough. I can’t handle that.” When Mike was out of town or gone for a day, it was a constant breathing in and out to keep myself calm until he got home. I was living in fear. Constantly. I also didn’t think that anyone could hurt as bad I as did. We had experienced more of life in a year then most people who were retired.
I had not been suffering well. I was suffering, and my suffering was seeped in pride, because my child was born retarded, my other child had died and Jesus didn’t seem to be paying attention, nor was enough for us, everyone else around us seemed fine, but Jesus must’ve forgotten about us.
As I read, and as I started to listen to others around me, I learned something-I learned that everyone is suffering. It looks different for each one of us, (like my friend’s husband had said). There is so much going on in this broken world. Marriages falling apart, children dabbling in drugs, grown ups recovering from years of a abuse by people who they were suppose to be able to trust, infertility, miscarriages, friends seeped in sin, friends who had children who were chronically sick, in and out of the hospital, spouses who had spouses who were sick and so much heartache. I began to see suffering in my friends eyes and I began to see how hard life is, not just mine, but everybody. If you live on this earth there is something going on that hurts, and it hurts deeply.
Prideful pain is this:
- Claiming that God is not good.
- Claiming that He is absent.
- Claiming that He is uncaring.
- Comparing our pain with people around us. That we are suffering more then the next.
- Minimizing the pain of one and being unloving in our response to their openness to us.
- Not listening and only talking about ourselves.
- Constant complaining about our plight.
- Ungraciousness to those around us.
I started to learn that Jesus was enough. Before Jesus headed to the cross He told His disciples the greatest commandment. The greatest commandment is to love one another (John 15). To think of others first, as Jesus did through His suffering-His death on the cross. For us. For sin. For suffering. For death (Philippians 2).
He HAD to be. There’s no way to make it through this muddle called, life, if He wasn’t. I learned that through suffering there is Hope. There is Joy. Because Jesus conquered this mess. It is that simple.
Now. Currently, I am (and my family) in the darkest, hardest hour. I don’t know how long this hour will last. I’ve wondered how long it will last, and it may just be till I breathe my last breath. It is easy to compare. It is easy to stand in the pew at church and listen to songs about Jesus’ goodness, knowing full well that it is true, but also struggling with despair and wanting what I lost back. Struggling with shaking my fist at God and that I have been abandoned. I have not been. I must, we must, constantly remind ourselves of the Gospel. Always. I have to stand there in church and say (sometimes out loud), “You are enough for this. I will still praise, because You are enough.”
I do not say this lightly. I do not say it in a trite way. I say it because it is true. I say it, because I HAVE to say it for myself. I say it because I have to be reminded to love others. To put others before myself and my pain, because there are hurting people everywhere around us. Everywhere. We are desperate for Jesus. Desperate. When we acknowledge our need for Him, we can suffer well, and we can love others along the way.