I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
I often begin my group Bible studies by having each member share a high and a low for their week. I wonder, if we asked God how His week went, what He would say? We may have seen a child mistreated, but God cried with every child on earth who was mistreated. We may have comforted a friend who just lost a parent. God cried at the bedside of every soul that died that week. We may cheer when our friend accepts salvation. God rejoices with every sold around the world that accepts salvation!
In Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, he explains how people survived concentration camps in world war 2. Without anything to be happy about, the survivors found a purpose for their lives to make living meaningful. Since then, many psychologists have written about how our lives need more than happiness. We need purpose and meaning. In the concentration camps it could mean encouraging another prisoner to hang on.
In Richard Wurmbrand’s book, Tortured for Christ, he described how those in prison for their faith would “tithe” their soap and bread, by giving them to a weaker brother. Even in prison, their life had meaning and purpose by helping someone else and expressing their love for Jesus in the process. Instead of just being happy, having meaning and purpose made them thrive even in dire situations.
I was going door to door, asking people to take a survey, to see if they were interested in Bible studies or any other service the church had to offer. A man answered the door cursing me, ordering me off his property. It seemed I could not comply fast enough. I felt I had been treated harshly. While this was not the first time I had been treated rudely, what happened next was unprecedented. As I walked down the street, I could sense the presence of Jesus, telling me, “Thank you for sharing in my suffering. Everyone left me at Gethsemane. Now I don’t feel so alone, knowing you have suffered with me.” Granted I did not taste even a sip of the harshness Jesus drank. Still, as I prayed as I walked, I realized, while I could not be there to wipe the sweat from His face in Gethsemane, I could share in His sufferings today in my own realm. Somehow knowing I had shared a little sip of what Jesus tasted, made my afternoon meaningful. It brought me closer to Jesus. We shared something together.
Instead of asking God to remove suffering, the key might be to ask God to help us find a purpose for our suffering. Sometimes that purpose may be just as simple and yet meaningful as sharing God’s week with Him, so He doesn’t feel so alone.
Thank you so much for offering this perspective on suffering. By God’s grace I’ll use it to change the way I look at my little trials.