This was written in response to some provoking questions that Andrea @ Lilkidthings posed on her blog
Well, it seems Tyler is qualifying suffering as a matter of wealth or poverty, having or having not. Which is likely what many people think of, physical suffering in a material sense and perhaps even physical suffering in a, well, physical sense. Indeed many parts of the world “suffer” in this way more than most Americans, but that is not all that suffering is.
I grew up the child of missionaries. I lived in third world countries. I have spent a great deal of time in “shack towns” cardboard houses like something out of “Slumdog Millionaire”. As a child I had friends who literally lived in shacks. We worked at a feeding center where the meal we provided was the only meal the children ate each day. Yet, I found so many people with so much joy, so much life. The churches were full, full of people excited about God, not just crying out for God to deliver them from poverty… but crying out to God because of how amazing He is and they wanted more of Him. I contrast that with America, we have so much yet we are so depressed and over-medicated, our comfort and options and decisions have all really served as distractions from the more important things in life. So many Americans are suffering, so deeply, just usually not from a “material” perspective. Growing up I was always asked “Oh so are you going to be a missionary and go to other countries” etc.. And my response has always been “no I feel called to America”, not because I enjoy the comforts but because I feel so burdened for America. As Steve mentioned on your FB post we have distracted ourselves from our suffering and therefore missed out on the growth and transformation awaiting going through it.
Philippians 3:10-11 says: “I want to know Christ and the power that raised him from the dead. I want to share in his sufferings and become like him in his death. Then I have hope that I myself will be raised from the dead.”
Well beyond the physical sufferings he endured on the cross, Jesus was betrayed, abandoned, he felt alone, separated from God. (None of that has anything to do with food, shelter or money). The scriptures talk about identifying ourselves with Christ’s suffering and the other part of that is knowing the resurrection power, the hope of the life, not just eternal life, but life here. I think that to the depth that we experience pain we can feel the healing, to the depth that we experience sadness we can experience the Joy.
In my own experience with suffering I found myself at the feet of Jesus. Had I not encountered the pain and suffering I had, I would not have come to know my God the way I now know Him. Through suffering I was transformed. I know that I have many transformations ahead of me as well.
When you say do we “deserve” value? Well, perhaps that is a tricky question, but my first response is that perhaps “we” have forgotten who we are? We’ve lost our Identity. If our identity is in Christ….it is as one loved, extravagantly loved and valued. SO YES, as a daughter of the King and one outrageously loved by God I am of value. And so are YOU!
But I see your story as a beautiful story of redemption. Which is exactly what our Jesus came to do
Isaiah 61:1-4 says:
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
Because the LORD has anointed me
To preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners, [a]
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
That is what Jesus came to do and He did it for you. So Andrea, here is how I see it, your Heavenly Father wanted you to have a loving husband and son just as badly as your earthly father did, if not more. His desire is to give you good things. It doesn’t make you spoiled or lazy or ignorant of suffering. But what you have now is that you have come to the other side and so you can offer so much hope, compassion, understanding and love to the broken and suffering women out there whose shoes you have been in.
(I actually still have more to say about this… but I really should stop writing for now…)