Sunday, June 29, 2008

On Joy and Long-Suffering

This hyphenated variation of the word "patience" often brings with it a sense of hopelessness. To suffer long is to endure all matter of emotional and mental strain, sometimes manifesting itself in the physical realm. By that, I mean, long-suffering is down right draining. How long must it go on? Until it's done. That sounds trite, I know, but it's the truth.

Have you ever wondered what the purpose of suffering is? I sure have. Why is it even a part of the human experience? It seems other things could take its place, like joy, for instance. By the way, joy is NOT the absence of suffering, just like peace is not the absence of war. Joy can be found while suffering. It's not masochistic joy, like enjoying pain, but rather a sort of comfort knowing that this is not a prolonged existence. We live in a temporal world - everything has its time; a beginning and an end. Nice and neat, right? Wrong. The mysteriousness of suffering has long troubled humanity, especially when we relate to God.

How many times have you heard someone ask "how can a loving God allow this to happen?" The "this" is generally a catastrophic event, something horrific, something fatal. Here's where we must pause and ask ourselves an important question:

Are we God?


Herein is the mystery of the ultimate purpose of suffering. This is what I like to call God's Business. We have no business entering this realm, a place where our human faculties cannot discern meaning. This is where long-suffering resides along with others like understanding why loved ones die before their time. Who are we to judge someone else's time on this earth? This is not our concern. Sure we miss them each day, and sure there's a lot of pain involved, and maybe other things have happened to us that don't make sense, but that gives us no right to question His plan. Thankfully, we can still ask Him about these things and that's part of the purpose of suffering.

Crises brings pain on many levels, depending on their severity. Suffering is painful. Have you asked God, I mean really asked God to help you understand things? All He wants is communion with you, to be near you, to have you approach Him and ask Him about life.

It's His business to know - He created all of it. Does this answer why we suffer long? No, but it does provide an opportunity to find joy and peace in the midst of it.