What is the “value” of suffering? I struggle with this concept. I don’t like this lesson, the lesson of learning through suffering! I see my clients come in suffering, struggling and just trying to find some meaning in their lives. My heart weeps as they weep and we work on finding meaning, especially when the healing is allusive. My respect grows as I see many of them continue to trust God when it seems others are being healed around them. So many OTHER miracles and yet here they sit…suffering.
I think back to some of my own personal times of suffering. I find that often, I suffer more when something is happening to a loved one than when something happens to me directly. For example, here is what I wrote last June after my son had surgery:
As I sit here in the darkened hospital room…listening to the hum of my 23 year old son’s pain pump, I am struck by the power that two little words are having on our world. ”Benign.” “Malignant.” Why do they carry such power; one brings relief and joy…the other, such gripping fear? Here we stand, straddling both words, waiting for the doctor to speak one of those words and our world stands still.
Then, the tumor was “only a cyst”…”no rush…these are routine.” The next thing you know we hear the doctor saying words like “tumor…possibly malignant…huge…couldn’t get it all out…” The shock left me speechless…the air was still with disbelief. How did the cyst turn into a tumor? Where did this come from? Why why why…all the questions I have heard so many times from my clients and always answered, “What if there are no whys?” Now I was facing the same question.
So the “tumor” now sits in pathology. This tumor represents so much more than just 2 1/2 pounds of flesh. It represents my son, his future, and our little world that was starting to seem sort of peaceful…sort of “normal.” Tomorrow we will hear one of those two words. Happy or sad…joyful or fearful…how can they hold such power? I sit in the darkness of this room and think that perhaps I should be cherishing this time of ignorance. Perhaps there is a peace in not knowing.
Yes…God is faithful! Absolutely…regardless of which word is uttered! I know that…I believe that. I also know He doesn’t always heal the way we imagine…wish…long for. And YES…I do trust that. But I have to tell you…when it is my son…my precious son…whose life sits in the balance between those words…I grieve. I tremble…even with the knowledge that God is in control! I argue with God….”take anything else…don’t let this happen to my son.” I tell God I DO trust Him…but could I just have this one thing go MY way? I tell God I KNOW He will be with us not matter what…I FEEL His peace surround us…but the mother’s heart in me does ache. How can I silence that? Should it ever be silenced?
What I do know is that I will never utter another thing to my clients about “God’s timing and His will” without remembering the agony of that moment–putting everything on the line for my own faith–even when it was the most precious part of my heart…my only child…my son. I often said I could never do what Abraham did by being willing to offer his only son as God asked of him. I am learning that surrender means just that…no matter what the circumstance, struggle, or what life hands us are we willing to give it all to Christ? To trust Him with the outcome…no matter what? I am learning that pain is my best, and least welcomed teacher.
UPDATE 7/29/09: Two days after I spent this dark night in his hospital room, the surgeon walked in and said, “there is NO cancer!” He said it over and over again!
I pray for you as you walk through your own valley of pain…may you feel God’s presence even during the darkest hour. Your fellow traveler, Mari.