When We are Suffering

As I write this, it is the eleventh anniversary of the death of my father. I grieve for what was lost, and what will never be. I am coming down with a virus, and my throat is sore and scratchy. Earlier today, I slipped and fell in my hallway from my son’s dripping bathwater trail, and I hurt my spine. On Monday, I received a diagnosis of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue from my doctor, who prescribed an anti-depressant for my symptoms.
I wish I could write something that is light and inspirational, but the truth is, life hurts. I used to have a hard time publicly admitting that, because as Christians, we are often encouraged to downplay our pain as to “not give the devil a foothold.”  It doesn’t mean that I am ungrateful or unhappy with my life, or that I’m moping around like Eeyore under my own personal rain cloud. It means I have a harder time coping and functioning at a level that other moms may have no problem with. And this post is about the other moms who are struggling, too. We are many.
There are different ideas on the theology of suffering. I’ve found that affliction does not discriminate against the poor or rich, the righteous or unrighteous. I know that through it we are refined and made more like Christ, so it can’t be a such terrible thing or punishment to suffer. The Lord knows that our sinful flesh turns to Him more readily when we are broken and have nothing left to contribute or lean on.
I’m an intuitive person, and I can see beneath the have-it-all-together exterior to the cracks that are close to crumbling. We keep it light in our social play dates, but when we are alone, I hear women tell their stories of marriage tension, miscarriage, exhaustion, disappointment, children walking away from faith, financial insecurity, health crises, and other challenges. We are getting older and having to deal with the trauma we have endured in the past.
We need to share with someone safe who will not silence our pain or hinder our healing. We don’t need unhelpful platitudes about how God wants us to be happy, so put a smile on. Counting our blessings may very well help our perspective and shift our focus to God instead of self, but it won’t take away the pain. The moms who are dealing with health issues might benefit from adjustments to their diet, but they don’t need added shame for feeling like they aren’t doing enough to turn their illness around.
What I have discovered is that Jesus is the only one who is “enough.” When I am suffering, knowing that fact, even if only intellectually and not necessarily by faith, keeps me going. My heart might be broken, and knowing is all I can muster. Help us speak Life into our pain when we can’t do it on our own. Let’s not shrink away or presume we have the answers to someone’s struggle, but be there with a heart willing to comfort and listen. The suffering have much to teach us, too.


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