Tag Archives: suffering

The Spark of Solidarity

I’ve found my heart heavy in recent days, heavy with a grief I cannot quite explain.

Loss comes in many forms, you see. Some sudden, some slowly, others in increments over time. I’ve long held to the notion that loss is loss is loss. While the details of our individual suffering may vary, human decency requires we honor its magnitude based on the weight felt by the one required to bear its load.

As the calendar marks another year since my firstborn son died, I’m struck afresh by this mortal proclivity towards comparison. Some who have not walked my road may be tempted to diminish their own woes as less than. In contrast, a grief unresolved could easily seem to outweigh all others.

Death. Disease. Divorce. Disappointments.

We all have our version of “worst case scenario” that life has required us to carry. These differences ought push us towards compassion rather than comparison. While you may never have walked a bereaved mother’s road, I have not had to walk as an orphan or a cancer patient. Where one person’s suffering may exist in external circumstances, some equally weighty exist where eyes cannot see but are just as real as tangible things.

Loss is loss is loss.

And yet…

There is a kind of loss that, in my eyes, trumps all others by comparison. One that I cannot wrap my mind around and feel honestly blessed to have not been required to bear thus far. It comes in vast shapes and forms, but haunts me just the same.

That of the sudden, the unthinkable, the kind that leave you utterly speechless, the unexplained.

Shootings. Devastating disasters. A sudden lethal heart attack in a healthy wife and mother. A child who never wakes from sleep. Things that should never, ever be.

In the face of such sudden atrocities, my own losses will always pale. Indeed, they fade into seeming luxury by comparison. Perhaps yours feel that same way. What do you say? What can you do? Platitudes cannot and should not suffice in such circumstances. How could they?

Today finds me grappling with such things, with memories of a heaven-bound son and signs of a broken world surrounding. In truth, it finds me with more questions than answers, more prayers of grief for the woes of those known by name and news headlines, more aware of what not to say than words to fill a heavy void.

But even in this space of wondering why, a smallest spark lights up the dark with hope. Not in an outcome perhaps, but in an understanding.

While our details may vary, life has dealt us all a heavy load to bear. We are mortal after all. While such weights can tempt us to comparison, they can also stir us towards compassion – compassion which we all need, that we all have the opportunity to bestow to our fellow man. The losses in my life do not diminish the magnitude of your own, nor vice versa. Instead they bestow a peculiar blessing.

The opportunity for solidarity.

I will never understand life’s sudden losses. I cannot fathom the grief of a parent stripped of their healthy child in a moment nor the terror of receiving that call from an officer. There are wounds you cannot quite grasp either, ones that make your own feel seemingly small.

But what I can do – what we all can do – is allow individual sorrows to fuel a compassion for others, one that stands in solidarity beside the sufferer so they need not grieve alone. We can see them. We can acknowledge the price life has required they pay. We can remember long after the signs and services and sympathy cards have ceased. We can extend our arms once weak with grief to hold up those now in need of lifting. Even Jesus took time to weep. He could have compared the coming crucifixion and found their grievance small. Instead, He wept. So too may we.

While life’s losses can defy explanation, may they fuel compassion. May grieving hearts be kept soft by the solidarity of others who refuse to leave their side.

Though today finds me with more questions than answers, may it also find a willingness to extend a battered heart in compassion rather than comparison, tender with empathy rather than indifference.

Loss is loss is loss. It ALL matters.

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When The World Goes Mad

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Chaos.  Confusion.  Crisis.
War.  Violence.  Hatred.
Disease.  Death.  Despair.

It seems the world’s gone mad.  Suffocatingly mad.

Mad to an astronomical degree.

Lately I cannot even glimpse the news without overwhelming dread.  Here. Abroad.  The downward spiral seems spinning faster with each passing day.

And the questions.  Oh the questions!  “Why?!”

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.  Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”?  It has been already in the ages before us. (‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭1‬:‭9-10‬ ESV)

Evil runs rampant but this is not the first time.  Egypt.  Rome.  Slavery.  The Crusades.  World Wars.  The Holocaust.  Genocide upon genocide.  Human Trafficking.  Fallen people committing unspeakable crimes in the name of their proclaimed “truth”.

As it is written: “There is none righteous, not even one; (‭Romans‬ ‭3‬:‭10‬ NASB)

From the Garden of Eden, sin’s chocking grip has bound this earth tight.  Evil has been.  Evil continues to be.  But praise be to God – evil will not last forever!

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.  And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we were saved.  Now hope that is seen is not hope.  For who hopes for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.  Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (‭Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭18-26‬ ESV)

God remains faithful.  He remains sovereign and just upon His Throne.  His lovingkindness endures forever.

He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken.  And it will be said in that day, “Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us.  This is the LORD for whom we have waited; let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.” (‭Isaiah‬ ‭25‬:‭8-9‬ NASB)

Do I understand why He allows such pain to continue?  No.

Am I unscathed by the evil rampant on our planet?  Not at all.

Do I still have hope?  Always.

Why?

Because I believe in the living God whose ways are higher than mine, whose thoughts exceed my own. (Isaiah 55:8-9)  Because the devil’s days are numbered and soon coming to an eternal end! (Rev. 20:10)  Because Jesus has the ultimate, the complete, the all-encompassing, the final Victory!  (Genesis 3:15; Acts 2:24; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28)

Grieve the cost of sin.  Cry out to God on behalf of the broken, the beheaded, the battle-worn and buried.  Rejoice in the life, death, and RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ!  Know that HE HEARS EVERY PRAYER! HE LOVES YOU! HE WILL HAVE THE FINAL SAY!

Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.  But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. (‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15‬:‭51-58‬ NASB)

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”  And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”  And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”  Then He said to me, “It is done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.  He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. (‭Revelation‬ ‭21‬:‭1-7‬ NASB)

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