When You Suffer With Those Who Suffer Do You Feel God’s Presence?
Posted Apr 22 2013 10:00am
Do you suffer with those who suffer or do you back off and say “I’ll pray for you”? Pastor Chris explains.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15)
God so often sends people into our lives at just the right time. Sometimes it’s just the right time for you. Sometimes it’s just the right time for them. Most often, it’s just the right time for you both.
God’s heart is for community, for sharing life together. The reason God gave us one another is to intertwine our lives together in a way symbolic of the way He intertwines His life with ours.
God is like a grand baker, He is always mixing ingredients. He mixed together His creation of Adam and Eve in the creative act of marriage and brought forth the human race. He mixed together sorrow and glory at the cross and brought forth the redemption of that fallen human race.
God is like a painter. He is always mixing the shining brilliant colors, shades, and hues of the paint of our lives together to create a painting more beautiful than any of the ingredients can be on their own. God is like a weaver of fine tapestry. He is always at work weaving brilliance from a few strands of thread.
Recently, God mixed my life together with a dear couple only weeks before I met them early one day to pray before his open heart surgery. I had only known them a short while and already appreciated them both deeply.
He remains in a several months long ordeal. He came out of surgery but suffered nearly every possible complication. He is now not the man he once was. He requires constant care and there is little hope given by medical staff for any substantive recovery. He is lost in himself and she aches.
My heart is heavy for them both. I imagine if I was in his shoes and my wife was in hers. She would be devastated and I suspect that when I had moments of clarity and realized what state I was in I would be outraged, as I, like he used to be, am a man of thought. I’m grieving with her without trying.
The pain of this situation is palpable. I wish there was more I could do for them and I thank God that I have been allowed the supreme privileged of knowing them both through this season of their life.
I sincerely count it joy to suffer with them, knowing that God is at work in it; knowing that while the winter of suffering stings, it humanizes our souls. It strips away falsity with its bitter bite and leaves us clinging to Christ for light and warmth.Only those who have suffered can know with clarity the depth of God’s grace and the enormity of His mercy.
My love for them abounds in the simplicity of suffering. My love for Christ increases as I, along with them, deepen my dependence upon Him alone.
I pray and wish that I could heal his body or that I could at least comfort her pain. I can’t. So I do what I am commanded to do and all that I can do. I mourn with her. I grieve with her. My heart breaks for them both.
Yet, I thank God for choosing their strand and mine to weave them together in sorrow as a part of the tapestry that He is weaving, bringing suffering together with grace to produce the most beautiful thing of all–love.
Prayer: Lord, teach me to suffer with those who suffer and to keep my heart open to those whom you send me in my suffering to share in it with me. Amen.
About the author
Chris Surber is the Pastor at Cypress Chapel Christian Church in Suffolk, Virginia. He is a religion columnist for the Suffolk News Herald and a contributor to various Christian publications. You can his website at www.chrissurber.com
In your pain, are you open to allow others inside to share it with you? In the pain of others, are you willing to take part, allowing God to mingle your life with theirs in the depth of sorrow and the deepest of love?
This song is by Casting Crowns, “Where is the Body?” As the USA comforts her own right now due to recent tragedies, let us remember to show compassion daily. Everyone has a story and it involves suffering. -Lisa