I was talking with a friend several months ago who is in the midst of grief and while she was talking she said, “I just want to learn what God wants me to learn and get past this.” I could understand how she feels. I’ve felt it too, but the more I felt that the more I felt like somehow I wasn’t “learning” what I was suppose to learn and stuff just kept getting flung our way.
Can I submit that if we are already God’s child, and life just happens that God isn’t necessarily wanting us to “learn” something? I’m not talking about learning something from bad choices, because there are times where we really screw up and we must learn from our experiences and God teaches us through those experiences. I’m talking about life just happening. A loved one passes away. We have a chronic illness. We have been laid off from a job and finances are tight. Our child is sick. We get a surprise diagnosis at the birth of a child. Suffering is not always meant for us to learn something. Sometimes there are things in life that just simply happen, because we live in a fallen world.
The pain from grief and suffering is piercing. It’s a bleeding heart that doesn’t stop bleeding. There is no plug to stop the heart from gushing. I am certain that grief has no end here on earth. There are still days my heart will pierce when I look at our daughter with Down Syndrome thinking about what might have been. There are still days I think about where Eli would’ve been in the line up of our children. There are days I think about how Boston would be turning 6 in a few days and he may have lost his first tooth. Grief will not completely go away. We want it to, because we don’t like the feeling of pain, but it will always linger. Always.
Have a learned things in my grief? Yes, of course. I have learned that God is good, especially in the darkest moments. I have learned that His faithfulness and His grace is the only thing that abounds. I have learned that I can trust His sovereignty. I have learned and have become more confident in that fact that this world is not my home. I have learned that my hope cannot lie in this world. I also believe that these are things that we can learn simply from living life and being a Christ follower.
When we say that we need to learn something and then move on, we are putting far too much pressure on ourselves. When we tell the suffering that God wants them to learn something through it, we are telling them that they must have screwed up somewhere and God wants them to be fixed. Can it not be enough that we are simply living life and that life is hard and challenging and Jesus is faithfully good in the hard times and He died and conquered the mess that we exist in? It has to be enough when it comes to our unanswered whys to suffering, because we will not always have answers to our whys in our sickness, suffering and grief.
We must recognize that God is not cruel to us in our suffering. He does not abandon us to have us grow alone, rather He is sufficient and gracious and holds us in the palm of His loving, long suffering (hesed) hands.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (emphasis mine)
I don’t mean to sound cliche, but the Word is Truth. Jesus IS gracious and kind in our suffering. He IS faithful. He does help us grow when we are in the midst of trial. He cradles us and loves us and cares for us.
As Christ followers, we are, hopefully, constantly seeking Jesus. We are, hopefully, constantly being reminded and confirmed of the Gospel. We are, hopefully, constantly wanting to know more about what He has done and accomplished. We are, hopefully, constantly learning. It is not necessarily because of our grief, it is simply because we are living and wanting to be more like Him, because only He can fill the holes in our broken hearts.