For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18
Why Part 1?
Because, there is more than one in the room.
This elephant is called Suffering.
Yes, I know, not a favorite topic – but that is why it’s an elephant in the room. No one really wants to talk about suffering. No one wants to think about suffering. Acknowledging that suffering is part of our lives just seems well, not right.
It’s a downer.
But, it’s real. It’s present in each of our lives in some way. If you are blessed to be in a place where specific suffering is not happening to you, it’s probably touching you through someone in your family or a close friend.
Suffering comes is many different packages.
- Some is physical, some is emotional, and some is mental.
- Some is afflicted, some in inherited, some we are born with.
- Some is due to illnesses or injury.
- Some is deserved and some not deserved.
- Some we know and some we do not know.
- Some surprises us and some we see coming from a distance.
- Some we experience because we have too much and some because we do not have enough.
The truth is that humans will always deal with suffering and ignoring it does not make it go away.
A gathering of believers* where we worship and learn from God’s Word has been teaching about elephants in the room. These are issues and subjects we don’t like to talk about, especially in church, but really need to be addressed.
Recently the elephant was suffering and as part of the worship service our pastor asked a couple in our church to share the journey they have had with suffering. Byron has Alzheimer’s disease. It has been five years since he and Dot, his wife, first learned that “Old Al Zheimer” was going to be taking up residence in their lives. Talk about a big elephant in the room. It is a long story but it is a story about how suffering has not crushed them and in spite of all the normal reactions and emotions and challenges and difficulties and adjustments they have turned this time of suffering into an opportunity of ministry.
What they shared – especially Byron words which came with difficulty but by the grace of God, touched me deeply. They started a catalytic chain within me. From Byron and Dot, I have begun to learn that suffering can be okay, that they will be okay. It is such an odd thing to say about an incurable disease but I have seen and heard how God can apply a salve to the suffering and give mercy and grace so that I can know as certainly as Byron does that God is with me and that it is good, He is good and it is okay.
The source of my suffering is major depressive disorder and general anxiety disorder. I am under the care of a doctor and most of the time, these illnesses are managed. Sometimes they rear their ugly head and try to create havoc. These are very real but poorly understood by most people.
My approach up until now has been to hope and pray for relief and release and look for the day when I am no longer afflicted. I have hoped for a long time that eventually I would be free from this affliction. That is a very frustrating way to cope. Not the hope and prayers – those are my lifeline, but hoping must be properly placed and expecting that this suffering is only for a season has given me a wishful hope that disappoints on a regular basis. I’ll go a season free from the effects and be thankful. Then I am t-boned and for no reason at all, my mood crashes, crushing my feeble hope. It just happens. Trying to discern the triggers is simple a different way to look for the same thing – release.
God gives hope that does not disappoint. He gives hope that is certain and fixed in His Word. His Word is that He is with us. He will never leave us. He will not forsake or desert us. He will provide and supply everything that we need according to His riches in Christ Jesus and according to will, He will give us what we ask for. That is what he has given me in Byron’s words. I am suffering – sometimes much and sometimes not so much – and I know that all the time, every day God is with me He holds me up with His righteous right hand. Surely he helps me. It’s okay. I will live with this as long as it is according to God’s will and if that is until I am with Him in heaven, then it’s okay. No, I will not always like it but I will always be loved and cared for by my Father who loves me and gave up his only begotten Son for me so that I can have new life through Him. I know there is a day when my body and mind will be reconciled with my spirit and made perfect. That is a hope that will not disappoint and that is a hope that is okay.
*The Longview Evangelical Presbyterian Church