The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. --Romans 8:18
Suffering seems always to be a surprise. In all its forms, it seems to enter our lives without warning or invitation. It comes against our will, against our timetable, against our comfort. And there is the undercurrent of emotion that makes us feel as though external sources have bombarded us with a kind of malevolence that is unfair and unjustified. In our heart we want to know "why." What have we done to deserve this? How could we have prevented it? What are we supposed to learn from this? Couldn't this have happened to someone else? How can we go on?
When we encounter such suffering in our lives, we find ourselves totally consumed. The overwhelming feeling seems to attack and flatten us. We usually try to keep a smile on our face, and a prayer for help on our lips, but what we really want is for the suffering to go away. To leave us free of the pain. To let us experience the sunshine of life once again. To let us get on with what we were in the midst of before the suffering broke in. Our thoughts usually do not revolve around such things as: embracing the pain and finding in the pain the peace that passes all understanding. It seems natural to try to evade suffering when it forces its way in. But, in the very evasion, we can miss an unexpected gift. Out of suffering comes grace, out of pain comes peace, out of bondage comes liberation. Suffering is always a surprise, but rather than just a surprise, it can become a 'divine surprise' when we find that what hurts us, leaves us alone, even victimizes us, can be the very thing that heals our soul. Don't be too quick to turn away from suffering when it startles you. Like the 'treat' in a box of Cracker Jacks, the divine surprise is just waiting to be discovered.
O God, just when all seems well with my life, suffering pays a call and I must answer the door. Help me greet suffering as I would a treasured guest, and find in the encounter a new path for grasping you - the God of love.
These meditations by Renee Miller first appeared at explorefaith.org
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