Recent reports of friends who are ill, disabled, estranged, falsely accused, depressed, newly separated, divorced, dealing with lost jobs, downsizing and losing homes are enough to make one wonder where God is in all of this.
My heart wrenches with the stories, the additional names on my daily prayer list, and the inability to know what to do to help.
Why is there so much suffering and why can't I make a difference? Do my prayers do anything or are they simply rockets sent into the atmosphere, exploding into nothingness?
On the surface, we might tend to believe that our prayers and intercessions and suffering is needless, but is it really? Does my compassion and prayers for others go unnoticed by Almighty God? What about those who have prayed for us during our hardships?
I believe that intercession is not only important and needed, but effective.
I believe that we can carry others through their suffering, just as they are able to carry us when we can no longer utter our cries to God.
Throughout our own 8 years of suffering, I have paid attention, not only to our own situation, but to the sufferings of others.
..... and I am amazed.
Not only have we somehow drawn closer to God, most of those who are in the throws of disappointment, frustration and loss are also closer to God. How does this happen? How can we lean on someone we do not understand? I think about a plethora of things during my daily work as a writer, mom, grandma, wife, friend, etc.
I often wonder if I would be as close to God now if I had not suffered? What about the others--how would their relationships be?
When we agree as Christians to "take up our cross," do we have any idea what we are saying? It sounds so simplistic, almost romantic and so "Joan of Arc-like"--but like with St. Joan and Christ--taking up our cross is messy business. It is ugly, smelly, bloody, lonely and painful.
From all appearances we are a failure. Our beliefs are seen as a joke. We look abandoned, unwanted, scourged, and like a loser. Christ looked this way too and was abandoned by nearly everyone who once called Him a friend.
This abandonment happens every day to each of us who agrees to carry the cross.
Then, as with Christ's resurrection--we see it. We remember Him as we suffer, as we are punished, ignored, pummeled with day after day of letdowns and blows to our spirit, but then, as with Christ--when things appeared the worst...we meet him on our Road to Emmaus and understand that suffering changes. Christ walked victorious and nearly unnoticed on that road--God changed Him and He became gift to us. He is proof in His eternal life--and in that he became sin for us so we need not suffer the enormity of the burdens he endured.
We don't understand it, but somehow, through it all we find him on our own walk to Emmaus--we realize that we need Him. We need His strength, His grace, His love, His understanding and protection.
We pray. We fast. We cry. We beg and we succumb and allow His Holy Spirit to flow through us and we accept that what we suffer on earth, is only to bring us closer to Him.
Not that I would want to go through this journey again--I would be lying if I said I did. Those who have suffered with a sick child, a parent with Alzheimer's, financial hardship, disabilities accidents, drug and alcohol addictions would never want to travel this path again. But somehow we do and we do not become bitter.
...but there is joy in the morning. There is a new day. There is a sweet grace that accompanies the suffering and the ability to rest one's head on Jesus' lap as He strokes our hair and lets us know we are truly loved, truly blessed and belong to Him.
We inhale the scent of the Rose of Sharon, and find it at times coming from within......it is then, we realize--He is living in us. Thanks be to God