Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Consider It Joy

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds. Jas 1:2

He’s a friend and a patient. We were sitting in my examining room talking of his physical difficulties, resulting from a previous cancer and progressive pulmonary failure from interstitial fibrosis.

“I know this is hard for both of you,” I said.

“Sure it’s hard,” he said. “But we still have our time together every morning with the Lord.”

His wife wore the sweetest smile when she added, “He still brings us joy.”

Lots of folk speak about God and suffering. Those who haven’t suffered speak academically with untested theory. Those who know not God speak of things they cannot understand, whether they have suffered or not. There is one authoritative human voice regarding God and suffering and it’s the voice of those who both suffer and know God. All others speak with incomplete knowledge unless they speak from the Scriptures.

I occasionally hear a voice that says, “I gave up on God because He did not come through when I hurt so bad.” I respect that voice and seek to understand God’s activity in their pain. But, far and away more often, I hear the words that this loving wife laid as a blanket across the pain of her shared suffering, “He still brings us joy.” These are words spoken with authority.

We all will suffer. Jesus told us that. Suffering hurts. We should not minimize our pain or the pain of others. In the midst of that pain we could spend a lot of time conjecturing why a good God lets innocent people suffer. I’m sure this sweet couple must have asked that question at least once.

Or, we can marvel at a God who takes the salt from our tears and fashions it into joy.

Dear God,
There is much that I cannot understand in this world. I accept the pain of this world without understanding it. Just so, I accept the witness of hundreds I have known who have found your presence in their pain and lived with joy in spite of their suffering.

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