Yeah, I’m late. But since Steve wrote about Living in Light of Eternity, I figured a few days here or there makes precious little difference.
A few weeks back, my mind was on suffering. I wasn’t really in the midst of any unusual struggles or pain; I just found myself considering the hurtful parts of life. There’s no shortage of them: Disappointment with self or others or circumstances shows itself in a million ways. Sometimes, “disappointment” is way too weak of a description. Life can dish out some blatantly brutal realities that it would seem no person should ever have to go through.
The feeling that overwhelmed me was, “This can’t be for nothing. There must be something crucial about our sufferings.”
I realize that that sounds vague, maybe nothing more than wishful. But the feeling was intense, and it wouldn’t leave me alone… and it wouldn’t come into clearer focus. The more I lived with it, the more I decided that what I was really getting at was the idea that our sufferings must count for something; they can’t simply be pain for the sense of pain. Beneath, there must lie something more substantial. I felt as though my holding to a worldview that involves a God at its centre demanded that at least this much make sense.
Now what I say next is not an attempt to answer unanswerable questions. I am not digging around in very real and very hard life, hoping to find some catchy God-slogan. Not even close.
We received news, along with many of you, that our friends (John & Jenn) had lost their baby boy.
And we tried to share in the shock.
And we tried to share in the tears.
Circumstances allowed us to attend the graveside service of Gordon Hector Wallace, and we were grateful. As we stood in the frigid cemetary together, through the visiting afterwards, and over the next handful of days, this train (right or wrong) dominated my thoughts…
Our sufferings do matter. And how God’s people live in the shadow of death and every other terrible thing is highly important. A visit with a friend after the graveside service involved a tearful imagining that she and her husband might not survive if they had to walk John & Jenn’s road. She simply wasn’t sure if they would pull through together. Maybe she’s right. Maybe not. It’s immaterial.
But our sufferings are not; not to God and not to His establishing His reign on earth.
In one sense, there is no couple that deserved a healthy baby more than John & Jenn did. God is highly pleased with the lives of these two children of His; I have no doubt.
In another sense, there are likely few couples with sufficient depth and grace to walk this road in a way that is truly beautiful and God-glorifying. And in that sense, the segments of our roads that are walked hand-in-hand with death are of the utmost importance. This is where much of the world walks. Jesus Christ walked such roads in a way that beauty flowed and life was never far behind. In fact, his fashion of living through the dark times is highly more impacting than his fashion of living through the heights. That’s no knock on him; it’s just the nature of life. The heavy moments hit harder, and our responses to such times are weightier expressions of who we are and what we hold to than the celebrations we hold on the mountain tops.
And it’s confirmation that there is more power and potential in our sufferings than our hurt usually allows us to see. And that is a reality that we Resurrection-people are to live out.
And that is a reality that can only be lived out in the light of loss, injustice, fear, tragedy, confusion,… or death.