Saturday, February 9, 2013


I’m trying to read three books about suffering simultaneously. At points, it seems like an exercise in mental gymnastics. There’s a web of opinions about what exactly causes suffering, what happens when we suffer, and how we might experience endurance or relief. Suffering for me, feels like being asked to live on the inside of a glass box. My palms are pressed firmly against the pane, curiously watching as other people enjoy their life. The scenery changes with the season.

Today, I see people enjoying marriage and family while I experience life alone. I watch others enjoy the activity of their bodies, running 10Ks on the weekends and playing basketball for fun. I assess my fatigue, and strap a brace onto my left leg before heading out the door to work. I observe my fellow 20-Somethings relishing friendships with others who are the same age. I usually feel disconnected when I talk to young adults; there’s a chasm of experience that exists between us. My life, it feels, has been thrown off track.

I’ve grown weary while turning the pages of my books, setting one down to pick up another. Occasionally I’ll savor a sentence or two, but it is this metaphor that I’ve found the most helpful.

Suffering is an isolating experience. One that makes me feel as if I were hiding down the hall in a dark bedroom, waiting. My head is turned towards the door hoping someone will come and offer comfort. When will this end? Does anyone see me here? Can any good come of this?

Jesus, hearing of my plight, sheds the afghan from around his waist and exchanges his evening slippers for a pair of shoes. Quieting the fire, he leaves the warmth of home and steps into the chill of the night. Snow is falling. It’s very cold and stormy outside, but the weather is something he can calm. Reaching the front door of my house, he begins to knock with determination.

Startled by the sound, I call from the bedroom with anticipation, “Come in!” Once inside, Jesus looks around my house and down the hallways, seeking me out, finding me in the bedroom, lying there in my suffering. Slowly, he comes beside the bed, and takes me by the hand. As he wraps his fingers securely around my palm, my loneliness begins to melt. I look into his eyes and realize—he has no intention of leaving my side.

He leans forward and whispers to me three things about himself I need to hear:

I am good.
I am near.
I am at work.

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