Suffering

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“We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Suffering.  It knows no bounds – people of all ages, all races, all sexes – endure physical pain, undergo emotional trauma and combat spiritual darkness.

I mean, really, let’s be honest. Who wants to admit, or face the fact, that suffering not only happens, but thrives at times? We fight against it with all we are. We exercise our bodies, our minds, our decision making so that we overcome, move on, let go – yet in the end. That which we strive to overcome, can swallow us up.

We tend to think about what  we are suffering, how we are suffering and why we are suffering. Our very focus is on how to end our suffering. To stop the pain, ebb the flow and remove the ache. Our feelings are constant reminders of our failure – guilt, shame, depression, anxiety, anger, insecurities, despair. These keep us grounded in our suffering, they become our friends as we suffer. Friends which don’t challenge us to rethink our minds or walk us through the pain.  Rather than help us lift our eyes off the suffering ~ we become consumed.

There we are, caught in the mire of our suffering. We shake our very fists as we are awash again in anxiety. We lift up our feet to step out of the muck of depression and anger. We twist and turn, trying to get the shackles of guilt and shame off our backs.  Hurting, aching, longing to end this constant suffering.  All these ways we hope, we plead and we want ~ to overcome. Yet, here we are.

Again…

All we desire is to be free! We seek out forgiveness, we search out hope and we want redemption.  How many times do we yearn for a taste of freedom but our hearts remain darkened? So, we suffer.

Freedom.

Ah, just the sound of it. Freedom!  The shackles on our back become unbound,  our feet are firmly planted on the ground and our fists loosen their grip on our hearts. Rather than shaking in despair, they open in anticipation. Rather than held tight in anger, they fold in prayer. Somehow the act of contrition on our physical body transforms our emotional and spiritual self.

We yield.

See, suffering will not cease. Yes, I should repeat that. Suffering will not cease. But our hope is not in what we do, how we behave or how others treat us. Oh no. Far from it! Our hope, is freedom. Freedom is found as we face our suffering. Freedom is found in walking through the suffering. Freedom is found opening our hearts to love.

Love.

“There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.” 1John 4:18

See that, love – it casts out our fear. It lightens our steps as we walk. It gives us eyes of compassion. It envelopes us in calmness. Grants us hearts growing in mercy. Allows us to see others as someone who suffers. Oh love!

I can’t promise your suffering will ever cease. No, I don’t think it will. But I can certainly acclaim that love conquers fear. Do not fear your suffering, welcome it, invite it in.

As you do, you invite love to reign.

Ah, freedom!

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