This week I have had a great number of conversations about suffering. Suffering is never far from any of us and it has been an intimate of my daughter-in-law for years now. She has suffered from migraines which have robbed her life of so much quality. Almost every time we meet for our Street Hope ‘Study and Prayer’ someone prays for her. Day after day, year after year we have prayed and there has been no improvement! Recently our prayers intensified as she experienced circulation problems and amputation loomed. We prayed! We urgently enlisted others in prayer but our prayers did not hold back the surgeon’s knife!
It is difficult to make sense of suffering but it remains a chief conversational pass time. I have come to the conclusion that it is not helpful to try and make sense of someone else’s suffering but it can be very helpful to ponder our own. I remember when our son died and people tried to help us with their Romans 8:28 versions of comfort. These platitudes angered me and their triteness robbed Romans 8:28 of its therapeutic balm which heals only when self-administered.
My dad had an expression “No one gets out of this life alive!” We all suffer! It is unavoidable. I remember when I lay in a hospital bed with a shattered mandible studying a book on ventriloquism. I was trying to make some sense out of suffering. I was trying to make lemonade from a very sour lemon.
My son and his wife have been given a bitter lemon indeed. I don’t know all of the lessons that suffering may bring them but I believe that in honest communion, ala the psalmists, they can begin to discover their own answers.
In the short term we have been given a taste of this. The very rare form of vasculitis which apparently caused most of her health issues is finally diagnosed. It seems to be treatable and we have hope that she will now experience a quality of life, so long denied her. We are saddened beyond words that this promise of relief comes at such a cost and we are hopeful for a future in which they can discover more and more the answers to the questions we all pose.
We at Street Hope persevered, though weary of no immediate answer to our prayers. We are heartened as we believe God is at work. There remains much to pray about. We believe that we have a God who knows our suffering and is intimately acquainted with our grief. He is working for our good!