My sweet friend, Susie, went through a recurrence of cancer this past winter. During that same time period, a precious friend to both of us died suddenly and tragically. We were reeling in disbelief and grief... struggling with questions and trust, faith and doubts.
My husband was also deployed to a hot spot in Afghanistan, and then I began having some scary medical symptoms. It was a long, dark winter, in more ways than just physically. And it seemed endless.
Susie and I sat this spring, talking, before we both moved from Germany. I confided to her (such audacity on my part, considering she was at the end of chemo and radiation!) that I knew there was supposed to be some lesson in all that had happened over the past months, but I wasn't quite sure yet just what it was. She is a wise woman. She looked at me, and said something along the lines of,
"Sometimes there is no lesson, other than that you just made it through."
Christians today don't typically embrace suffering. It's human nature to want to wriggle our way out of it. We want something more to show than just having survived. You know that saying, "I don't want to just survive! I want to thrive!"
But sometimes, surviving is enough....because you can only go up from there. And you've lived to see another day. And that may be all that appears on the surface. But within us, God is doing a deeper work.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2)
I'm amazed when people go through hardship and come out of it with only the thought that life is short and they need to grab all they can get, before it's too late. How sad.
I've heard two messages this past week on "why bad things happen to good people." Apparently, it's a message that bears repeating and one I haven't learned well enough yet. Each of us will face this quandary if we live long enough. Life is fragile, fleeting, and a gift we must learn to hold lightly.
But this is not all there is.
Do you believe that?
This is not all there is!
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. (1 Cor. 15:19)
There are no easy answers to the question of suffering, and I won't pretend to know all the 'whys.' But God knows.
We got through it....and that's enough for now.
***for my friends Chris, Susie, Laurie, and Sheila....you know why***