I don’t know about you, but I really have a difficult time with suffering. Those who have nestled close to us the past 8 years have have willingly endured front row seats in our seemingly endless personal trials. Some have said they don’t know of anyone who has gone through as much as we have.
…..And others have said they have suffered worse.
I believe them.
For us, the agony of disability, serious illnesses, the loss of family and friends who weren’t able to handle the ride, and the financial disasters, seemed at times as if they were the most grueling and arduous punishments that could be inflicted upon a couple.
Each time we thought our situation was the worst, we saw someone else suffering life-threatening diseases or other paralyzing levels of hell that made us weep for our selfishness.
When I screamed, “no more,” I saw so many others who suffered much more, and I was humbled.
A dear friend had his reputation tarnished through the lies of another, and though his pain was enormous enough to drop an elephant, he rose above his anguish and humiliation and began ministering to others while his own heart was shredded. Day after day, he cared for the wounded, lifting them up, guiding them as he always did, only to toss fitfully each night, craving the sweet balm of sleep, something that the words of betrayal would not allow.
“How do you do that,” I asked him the other day. “How do you continue to minister, continue to hope, continue to praise God and remain faithful with all that has happened to you?”
In his gentle way, he affirmed that we too, are doing the same; and he said the most profound sentence, in just four words.
“We are Advent people.”
Yes. Oh yes. We are Advent people. We watch in quiet, hushed breaths in the cold winter night, waiting for the Star, the innocent Babe, the Christ-Child. We await the joy of His birth and the sense of fulfillment. We prepare our hearts and homes for the Savior of the World.
But choosing to follow Him must always lead to the Cross; and in our suffering, we are blessed and given the choice to draw close to His heart. For in the depth of our pain, we are united intimately to His Passion and we have an opportunity to intercede in prayer for the suffering Body.
Through the pain, the struggling, and the feelings of abandonment, we can cry out to Him, nestle at His feet, His blood covering our quivering bodies, until we finally understand, that the suffering is the only way to get to Him.
If aligning myself with Christ requires suffering and sacrifice, then I know we are on the right path and while it is painful, I embrace it, for not even the King of the Universe escaped this path……..the difference is, I deserve it.