Has the suffering in the world increased? Or is it only that I am overloaded with information, and so much of it carries the weight of suffering? Perhaps all that knowledge we can now access, the heaviness of it, is a kind of suffering in itself.
I feel so lethargic with it sometimes, as though gravity pulls more strongly than it should under my footsteps, even while my shoulders rise up in tension to my ears.
A whole generation of refugee children growing up displaced. Millions trapped in the nightmare of human trafficking. Mental illness rampant, misunderstood, and under-treated. Wars that last decades without any winners, but countless losers.
And meanwhile, we have our private intense suffering. Cancer, or the cancer of someone dear to us. A child lost in the wilderness of depression. A spouse with addiction. A parent with dementia.
The gravity pull of suffering collapses our frames under the weight.
Every person suffers. The question is: what do I do with it?
“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him… that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
Will I know the power of resurrection when I respond to suffering in my life? Will I recognize that not only the bad stuff, but the good stuff too, is nothing compared to knowing and being found in Christ?
Crucially, will my suffering be in fellowship with His? Confronted with the weight of suffering, Bob Pierce wrote, “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.” Resurrection comes after participation in death, willingness to suffer for the sake of others and die to my own comfort.
To suffer pointlessly is the existential horror we all fear. But suffering doesn’t have to pull us down into depair. It can pull us to face-down worship of the crucified, living Christ. It can join our hearts to His in service and compassion. It can bring us to the place where deep calls to deep and our souls change and grow and refine.
Every person suffers. What will we do with it?