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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Suffering Scale

In my immature, selfish and faulty thinking, I’ve always seen suffering as scale. The suffer-a-meter. On one side is a little bowl that holds suffering and bad stuff that happens to us and on the other side is a bowl of the same size that holds blessing and all the good stuff in our lives. It is a precarious balancing act for the scale to perfectly measure a balanced life. Yet, so many days I find myself checking it hundreds of times to see if the scale is tilted at all.

My parents divorced. Tilt. But, they both remarried people who happen to be a couple of my best friends. Balance.

I never made cheerleader. Not in fifth grade or any other year. Tilt. But, some of my best friends were made on the drill team. Balance.

When I was part of a single-parent family, money was really tight. We were poor. Tilt. My mom remarried and we had to move away from the only home we’d ever known and all our friends. Tilt. But, my mom remarried. Balance. And, our needs were always provided for. Balance.

We had to move away from our home in College Station, our church and our friends. Tilt. But, we get to make new friends, live near family, enjoy the lake and my husband loves his new job. Balance.

I was diagnosed with cancer. Big tilt. But, I’m done with treatment and hopeful it won’t come back. Precariously balance.

Does anybody else think like this? I almost breathed a sigh of relief when I found out I had cancer because, in some sort of weird way I was sure that meant I’d been dealt my horrible suffering for this life card and once I got through it, life would be all rosy again. I mean, I know that’s faulted but my brain is a strange and scary place sometimes.

Because I know this is a lie, I began to ask God to let me view suffering in light of His truth.

I discovered that the Apostle Paul refers to suffering as a fellowship he wants to share with Jesus. Some of the definitions at Miriam-Webster.com are companionship, the state of being an associate, a company of equals or friends and the foundation of providing of provision.

In light of these definitions, I think I’d like to share companionship, become an equal and have the foundation of Christ’s provision in my life. What about you?

This week these truths have been pressed into my heart with a fiery branding iron it seems. There are so many who can’t say their scale is precariously balancing. There are many whose suffering side is so weighted to the ground, it seems like it would take lots to get back to balance. At least to me.

I have a bloggy friend who has gone through something that I consider would weight one side of my scale to the ground forever. And, way too many of my friends have gone through it too. She buried her child. On top of the loss of her only child, she has walked with her husband through medical trials.

Now, don’t get me wrong. She enjoys life. She has interests and friends and most importantly she loves Jesus. She’s been one of my biggest cheerleaders, sharing bloggy love with me regularly. She lives as one with hope.

That’s why when she found out she had breast cancer she just saw another mountain to climb. She saw a climbable, traversable mountain, another surprise in the game of life.

I, however, saw unnecessary, overwhelming hardship to someone who has quite frankly suffered enough already.

Upon hearing her diagnosis, my heart went straight to the whys of it all. Once again I had to take my thoughts captive and run straight to the Lord. Many gut-wrenching prayers have been said for my friend this week. I find myself alternating between tears and sighs. I honestly don’t have words to pray for my sweet friend.

So today I’m asking you to pray for my sweet bloggy friend. Would you pray sweetness would fall into her blessing bowl as she begins walking on cancer’s dark road? I know some of you in bloggy land have a story similar to hers. Would you go meet Jan today? She needs her sisters.

Even though the closest I’ve come to answering the whys is that we simply live as foreigners in a fallen world where a battle for our very souls is ongoing, I can continue to put on the truth of Christ instead of letting the whys take me to a full-blown pity party. I can remember that I want to share companionship with Jesus, become His equal in grace through my Abba’s spirit of adoption and have the foundation for Christ’s provision in my life. Simply put, I’m willing to belong to the fellowship of the suffering in order to know Him more.

One thing He has shown me about suffering is that He will use it as a fragrant offering if we will let Him.

He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too… I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 & Philippians 3:10 The Message

Lord, I’ll go all the way with you. All the way to death no matter how the scales fall. Amen.

This post is part of Sandy's series 30 Days of Hearing God.


7 comments:

Melanie said...

I just wrote something moments ago about knowing Him in the power of His resurrection ~ the good part ~ but also knowing Him in the fellowship of His suffering ~ the not so good part.
I am eager to have the resurrection part more than ever, but find myself still with Him in the fellowship of His suffering.
While Andrew has now experienced both, I have only to experience the one.

Stacey Dawn said...

Great post Lisa - and I will head over to visit Jan. I was just thinking about this type of stuff this morning. I got my diagnosis (not cancer) and told God that I hope He can use me through my suffering - somehow let Him be more known.

Denise said...

I love you so much, bless your compassionate heart sis.

Debbie said...

Lisa, I've often used a similar type of suffering scale. I didn't know others did too. It's too easy to look at others and think they have it easy. However, we don't always get to know all that goes on in one's life.

I've followed along as Melanie went through and continues to go through her suffering. And you too as you go through the cancer treatments. But you will be used to comfort others going through something similar. Look at how compassionate you are with your friend.

I need to check out this series that Sandy has begun. You know she is one who has comforted and helped me as I go through a tough period of depression. Often it takes someone who understands, doesn't it?

Blessings and love,
Debbie

Sandy Cooper said...

When my son Noah died, I definitely believed I had reached my "suffering quota" (that's what I called it) for the rest of my life.

I was shocked. SHOCKED when my mom died only 5 months later. And then REALLY, REALLY shocked when Noah's autopsy came back saying his death was caused by something genetic. Something every subsequent child could also have. And yes, I was pregnant with child #2 at the time.

God and I had to have a very long talk. For like YEARS over my view of suffering.

I've learned that everyone has a story. Everyone will go through something. And what God asks of me is that I trust Him and serve Him no matter what.

When I get to heaven, He will see to it that all wrongs are made right and all injustice will be properly dealt with. Until then, my job is to trust and obey.

And for the record, it's really hard for me to write that, even now...12 years after I buried my son.

Blessings,
Sandy

Deb said...

Amen and amen...

Kimberly said...

I can relate to a lot of this post! I think in terms of "reaching a suffering quota" too, although I didn't know how to articulate that until I read your post, lol! And yes, we all go through stuff. One thing I have learned and I say this over and over again...things are not always what they appear to be. Things are not always as they seem. We don't know what people are dealing with or going through. And I am sure that if I was not dealing with my particular crosses, I'd be dealing with something else. I don't think anyone is truly exempt, even the ones that, in our minds, seem the most "blessed".