Monday, November 5, 2012

A Speculation on Suffering

Fair warning, good people.  Aggravatingly crazy thoughts ahead.

Confession:  I will never ask to suffer.  I just won't.  For the love of all that is holy I will never be like, "Hey God, ya know I haven't seen quite enough suffering in my life lately...could we kick that crap UP a little?!!"

Ahem...not exactly.

Now dear readers I am not talking about the jokester kind of 1st world suffering we are accustomed to...  Aka: my coffee is cold and the microwave is all the way in the kitchen...OR the hot water just ran out because my dishwasher, washing machine, and steam shower are all going at once...OR my stomach hurts because I stuffed myself with too much fondue at this fancy restaurant.

(cue me ducking my head in shame because I really thought I suffered through a cold shower once...)

I am talking about the kind of suffering radical Christ-followers back in the day faced:

Slavery
Martyrdom
Upside down crucifixion
Beheading
Jail time
Barren wombs
Social ridicule (unwed, pregnant teen mom anyone? Mary was scandalous!)
Scorn
Fear of being murdered for beliefs
Physical suffering
Family deaths 
Financial ruin 
Health stripped away
Physical/verbal abuse, mockery, public nakedness, torture (that'd be Jesus)

Can we all just be honest here and say most of us haven't suffered a whole heck of a lot?  Maybe even at all?  

But when I think of suffering lately, my thoughts settle on my husband.  You cannot convince me that this man is not suffering.  And I don't think it's in vain or the least bit wasted.  I am convinced that he is under fire for Christ.

"But Carly, you silly naive 23 year old, how can a loving God allow suffering?"  Thanks for asking.  I don't know! Well I don't know for sure because that would be crazy prideful but let me take a stab at it and share my thoughts.

Here's what suffering is not: the purpose of suffering is not for God to flex a mean muscle.  That's twisted and how the devil rolls.  God's purposes are often subtle, unknown, curious, perfectly just and firm...and we usually miss purpose initially anyway.  

Jesus was startlingly honest about suffering.  He not only warned of it but promised it!  Why though?  What is to be accomplished with that kind of agony in the Bible or the hard stuff people face now?

I'm no expert but here's a crazy thought to mull over...

Perhaps a God who allows suffering makes sense.

Knowing that God allows suffering, makes sense of all the most horrific, unspeakable things you can name.  Because all though unimaginably difficult or gruesome things happen-Christ redeems.  Suffering has been purposed to somehow and in someway (perhaps years and generations later) be used to glorify Him.

Take it a step further with me.  Perhaps a loving God allows suffering because when our super human powers are completely depleted...we run to Him with open hearts and arms.  Maybe suffering is a direct manifestation that this life is in fact not about us in the least-but made to point back to Him.  Suffering usually begs the question, "Why me?" when the real thing to ask is "Why NOT me?"

Never before in my life has anything taken my eyes off of myself and placed them back on Jesus like suffering.  I cling to him, I hope in him, I rage at him, and I bare my heart wide open.  In Ryan's suffering I see others learning more about who God is, I see them wanting to know why he has continued hope, and truly...a loving God and a perfect savior are the only things that help us make sense of his failing health and physical suffering.

To date Ryan has undergone 7 surgeries, 20% body weight loss, agony, stress, medical interventions that seems torturous, hopelessness, nearly a month of hospital stays, despair, chronic pain, confusion, weakness in body and heart, and just about every other miserable thing you can think of.

And what makes sense of it...is Jesus.  Ryan's uphill health battle is being worked to point others to Christ, to remind others of God's faithfulness, to deplete us so that much can be made of God.  It's a daily death to ourselves and reminder to roll with the Lord and dig his way of life.  To cast off how the world says to live and put on our own crown of thorns.

Yes, suffering from a loving God makes sense.  Don't ever quote me for saying it's easy or desirable-remember how I'll never ask to suffer?  (Change me God!) But often what I want for myself is not the most wise and Someone knows what's better.

So God, give us a life void of ourselves and dare I say-one where we know what laying down our lives for you really means.  A life void of fleeting comfort and lacking in worldly sense.  Because whoever loses their life will find it.

Amen.  Gear us up Lord-because I want a crazy life after youAnd even if it means we go down really suffering-at least we'll go swinging.

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Matthew 16:25

8 comments:

  1. And what makes sense of it...is Jesus.

    Amen.
    We will not, in this life, be able to look directly into our sufferings and read the mind of God. But we can know that He is good, and that He is for us.

    Because of Jesus on the cross. Nothing else. Just Him.

    Emily
    www.weakandloved.com

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    1. so true Emily. We may not have all the answers on this side of heaven but it will be purposed and is not wasted. So glad you're here :)

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  2. Wow! So articulate. So much truth. So well done.
    Keep up the God work.
    I am praying for both of you.

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    1. Lori thank you for reading and praying! It makes all the difference each day when Ryan is covered.

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  3. I am a bit late on commenting...but hats off! Very very good read! You are just so mature for 23...awesome, you are gunna just do amazing things in this world Carly Decker! :)

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    1. Vee it's only the Lord that gives me anything worthwhile to say! You are so encouraging-thanks you!

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  4. So well said. Praying for your dh and trusting the Lord to work this to your good and His glory, something He is most obviously already doing. I have to confess that I, too, shrink back from "asking" -- to recoil is so much more like it. Even "entering in" where there is suffering is hard, and yet, it is what we are called to do. The Lord certainly knew what He was doing in giving your dh yourself as a helpmeet. His ways are a mystery, and yet they are full of grace and mercy. Soli Deo Gloria!

    In HIM, ~Lisa @ HappyinDoleValley :)

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    1. LIsa I'm so excited you found your way to our blog! It was a blessing to read your post this morning Entering in to suffering is very difficult, along with understanding it, enduring it, or loving someone through it. But I believe God will give us the ability to withstand the storm whether it is we who suffer or someone we know and love.
      Grateful for your perspective and visit here!

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