If suffering is what unites us as human beings, then how is it that I can ignore the suffering of others when I am ok?
If you don’t have a close connection with suffering you are probably not even reading this article. At least I probably would have not read it until 2010.
This morning I woke up after a very peaceful night of sleep. It was my first almost full night of sleep since I got to the hospital four days ago. I pulled out all the stops last night. I asked for pain meds and sleeping aid.
The problem is I slept too well. My feeding tube came out. There is only one thing worse than having a feeding tube. Having to put it back in while awake.
I hoped they would let me keep it out. No way. It had to go back in. (Fortunately I got a new, clean one).
Here is how it went:
First time: I didn’t swallow at the right time. It went into my mouth. I yanked it out. No way!
Second time: It did not even make it that far.
Third time: The doctor coached me and it made it down: “breathe” now swallow hard, now breathe.” “We did it!”. “But it’s still stuck in my throat!” “That’s the point!” “But it bothers me!” “I’m sure it does, but it’s in. Now let’s get it taped up before it comes back out.” “No negotiating on that point.”
Then I had breakfast…a large latte with sugar…directly into my stomach through my mega-syringe. That is, after a good job of uncontrollable sobbing. Sometimes we just break. I almost always have one of those breaking points sooner or later.
The feeding tube is still there, making me gag, but I feel better. Now I can think again…so I am writing this down to not forget. But I have only been in this condition for four days. What about those who suffer for four weeks, four months, four years? What about those who suffer for eternity?
Some people suffer all their life and then head to an eternity of suffering. I need to stop ignoring the suffering of others. Today is my turn. Tomorrow it’s your turn. And I want to be there for you. Especially if you were there for me. But even if you weren’t.
Suffering unites us more than happiness.
If I know that you are headed to an eternity of suffering I am going to beg with you. This suffering reminds me of what you will go through…forever. I am going to cry with you. I am going to talk to you about it. If my five minutes of suffering felt like an eternity, your eternity of suffering really will really feel like an eternity! It will not end. Our suffering only gives us hope if our hope is Christ.
What have you learned about suffering?
P.S. It looks like I might be getting out Wednesday, but I really want this feeding tube out NOW!
Oh, this hurt me so to read. I cried with you. I am so glad that the tube is out now.
Suffering is a very long road. Excellent thoughts. I am praying much for you and God bless you and give you strength and grace. I love you
Thank you Dawnie! We need to take one day at a time, because the big picture always helps us get through tough times.
Just one question Jonathan : if eternal suffering exists, why did God create beings who would be caught in such a fate?
Robert, that was an excellent question. Thank you for asking.
The Bible indeed does answer that question, though it can still be a bit unsettling. Here are a few thoughts. Maybe once I am at home I can answer a bit more completely. I’m intentionally trying to avoid loading up my response with proof texts, but I would love to make them available to you if you like.
1. God created us for His purposes and His glory. Anything less than his glory would be idolatry, giving glory to someone inferior.
2. God is completely sovereign, completely in control. Job learned it the hard way.When he questioned God for allowing him to suffer, God did not answer him directly. He just told him how he is. The apostle Paul confirmed this thought in Romans 9.
3. God is absolutely good and loving. He’s the essence of goodness. This must never be left out of the equation. There is no evil in God.
4. God is absolutely holy. He’s the essence of holiness and perfection. Being any less than holy is existentially impossible for him. His perfect holiness demands a perfect judgment on those who go against his perfect standard of holiness, otherwise he would be unjust.
5. God is absolute love. How do you even define love? God. Though his righteousness demanded judgment, his love sent his son, Jesus the Christ to take the place of repentant sinners.
So what place is there for unrepentant sinners? Justice. Righteous judgment. Just getting what we deserve, nothing more, nothing less. That is why the good news is so good! God made a way!
Hebrews 2:3 “How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?”