Suffering is not par for the course. It is the course.
This is not something we want to hear, but I am seeing it every day.
This trip has been amazing and so far we've only gone from Texas to Canada and down to Michigan. Only three weeks into a ten week sojourn. It has encouraged and challenged me. My friends have reminded me of the important things in life. Much as I'd like to give names, that might be invasive. So I will use hebrew letters to identify those who have ministered to me.
Aleph is recuperating from the ravages of chemo and accepting this second bout of cancer with grace and gratitude. Bet, her mother, is as joyful and full of laughter as ever; mindful of the precariousness of life, delighting in its robustness. The hospital stays and uncertainties are not dragging them down. Visiting them is a genuine "upper." Sure we talk about cancer, but we also revel in a son's amazing healing, an exotic eastern wedding, an upcoming grand/great-grandchild. God is honored.
Gimel deals with the effect of addiction in her family. Despite her own weaknesses, she presses on--encouraging all around her and keeping laughter close to the surface. Dalet and daughter are finding wholeness despite the loss of a beloved spouse; daughter is seeking to reach young people struggling with pain. Her tattoo is eloquent: the wrist slash ending in a heart. Jesus is pleased.
Hei is recovering from an invasive heart stimulation, but more aware of the needs and concerns of those she prays for daily. Her heart overflows with compassion. Vav has sons needing to make the right choices, but wisely chooses to allow them to make their choices and pray for them. Saying, "I told you so" would be easy. Watching them deal with consequences is so hard. The Body of Christ is strengthened.
Zayin is paying debts racked up by her deceased mother. Although her deceased ex-mother-in-law left a legacy, none came to her or her children. The injustice of this outrages me, but she says she is doing it to honor her mother. She harbors no bitterness about being left out of the other inheritance. Christ is smiling. Holy Spirit is given a situation to bring glory to God.
Het is caring for her Alzheimer's afflicted mother in law. At great personal and financial cost, she and her husband are taking up the slack from other siblings unwilling to help. Her own parents need more support and care which she struggles to give them. She is a source of encouragement to her sons as they see her example. The church is strengthened.
There are more that I hope to mention. But they are just a reminder of all those suffering, taking on of responsibility, doing the right thing which is the hard thing--being faithful disciples. Eternal realities are being tapped in this life. We are all heading on a course. The choices we make here are setting our direction. When we let suffering guide us into wisdom, the course is safe.
Suffering isn't par for the course. It is the course.