Saturday, August 25, 2012

"I'm Suffering!" How To Deal With Suffering

I have a hard time understanding human suffering. Just watching TV this morning and I see these guys who’ve dug about a 15 foot well with a couple of stepping blocks and there’s like 12 guys at each level and they were passing water up and down, you know fetching water for their community and that’s how they live. Every couple of months it gets dry, they have to dig deeper, maybe once in a while it rains and they rest a little, same cycle.

About the same time, my mom is telling me how there were cattle rustlers somewhere in the coast. Two different neighboring communities and one attacked the others village, burned down houses and killed 37 women, 4 men and about 15 kids. One survivor, a man was on camera and he had a baby a couple of months old and 3 other kids, and we find out he’s lost his wife and 2 other kids, all killed. He saw the media and police commissioner and he’s just asking him, “Why have you come now? What can you do now? Can you bring my kids back? Will you bring my wife back? Are you going to breast feed my baby?” Then he just collapsed into tears.

My mom was telling me how her heart just broke seeing that, same as mine hearing about it. Then she asked me, “Now how do you tell someone like that about Jesus?”

So now, I’m here reading my Bible, listening to a Mars Hill podcast by Mark Driscoll and singing a little Jesus Culture, you know my typical Saturday chill day. My life is pretty good. I know Jesus, I have issues, I have sin that I’m still confessing and getting past, but I know God is real, I know his redemptive power. Yet, how do I reconcile my God to this situation. The Bible says all things work for good to them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose – Romans 8:28. How do you tell someone that losing your wife and kids, senselessly because people had no heart and slaughtered them that this will work for good. If you told me that, I would smack you in the face!

Then, turning to good old Google, “What does the Bible say about suffering?” and it points me to the book of Job, which I’m actually going through in the One Year Bible right now. All I’ve learnt from Job so far is a lot of confusion.

One day I’m on Job’s side, like, “What did I do wrong, have I not been faithful and honored the Lord all my life? What sin did I not repent of that was so great that I deserve to be disgraced like this?”

Other days I’m on his friends’ sides, “Trust in the Lord, this is only a season and God is definitely going to restore you to even greater heights than this.” (Plus, I’ve been reading this for three days and I’m just like, “dude, get over it already so I can move to Ecclesiastes!)

To which Job always replies, “Get out of here! No literally get out of here, you have no idea what I’m feeling, you look down on me already because I’m suffering. All the words you’re saying are like nails on a chalkboard and the funny thing is, if I were in your shoes I’d have said the exact same thing. It’s not going to be alright, I don’t see the silver lining and all I want to do is to die.”

Job’s story puts into perspective the phrase, “naked I came into this world and naked shall I leave.” Oh wait, he said that *_*

I get that life on earth is transient, just a stop in the journey to eternity; but what’s the purpose, what’s the reason behind suffering. Is it then that some people don’t need to hear the gospel? How does judgment day apply to people like that whose whole life has just been suffering, girls who’ve been sex slaves their whole life, people living in a war zone, people whose families were slaughtered before their eyes?

The thing though is this, the gospel is for everyone, and everybody needs to hear the gospel and make his choice. I feel like God, yes He did make everyone equal, but He also didn’t just throw a prototype into a machine that then churned out similar little models of the exact same thing. I feel like God allows a certain measure of grace to everybody, uniquely and individually. God is faithful, that’s just who He is and He won’t let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with every trial He provides a way out so you may be able to endure it – I Corinthians 10:13.

People go through things that I cannot imagine, like a couple of the things I mentioned. I’ve been through things that other people cannot imagine. You’ve been through things that I can’t imagine, have you noticed that? Yet somehow, we all {for the most part} still get by.

People go through all sorts of things and we hate it, sometimes we even hate God and get bitter and offended like, how can a so-called loving God allow this to happen. We get mad at ourselves like I should have prayed more or I didn’t have enough faith. We get mad at the world, like, how could they do that, don’t they have any common sense or don’t they have a heart?

I propose this though, that somewhere beneath the anger and betrayal, everybody whose suffering has a part of them that needs something more than an answer. We know bad things happen and everyday you wake up and think, “Is this the day that disaster falls on my door?” That’s just the world, that’s humanity. So, maybe there’s a part of us, which needs more than an answer, which needs to reconnect with God. The question then becomes how do we as Christians, find our way too that little part.

Like I said, I’ve been through a couple of rough spots, e.g. losing my dad at 19. First of all, when I was a kid, like in Primary school and kids lost their dad, I’d be like, “Whoa, how do you even live after that?!” I could not imagine, then my brother and sister get married, especially my sister’s wedding, watching my mom and dad walk her down the aisle and just how much my dad enjoyed that wedding, so much so that he bought a huge “Congratulations, Just Married” card and wrote, “Soni, Ilikuwa poa sana” Soni being my sister’s name and that translating to “It was really nice” and me thinking, wow, he really loved that wedding I wonder if he’ll love mine?

Then a couple of months later,  his memory starts getting fuzzy, he can’t remember how to dial a phone number or fix fuses because he was really good at electrical things or his behavior just changing and after that we find out he has brain cancer and an S.O.B doctor says to my dad, in front of my mom with all the sensitivity in the world, “you do know you’re dying, you’re never going to drive again” in reply to my dad’s question, “will I be able to drive?” (Sorry, Lord forgive me of my bitterness *_*)

So, my writer/journalist dad whose written a bunch of books and articles, a master of words, the smartest person I knew who could fix any electrical appliance, gets attacked in what I felt was the core of him, his mind. Soon he can’t write, he loses coordination, he can’t form sentences correctly, at the end he couldn’t walk or talk.

I’m just like, cancer is fine God, if that’s the way you wanted him to go, cool, but his brain! Really, was that necessary that he lost the very essence of himself and virtually saw parts of himself disappear every day? I swear, sometimes I’m looking at my friends like, “Really, do you know what I saw, do you have any idea what I’ve been through, hee, you don’t know what life is!”

It was hard, like that to me is suffering; it put me through the ringer. However, I came out of it, it took a long while but I’m here now writing about it, that’s progress.

Other people have been through experiences worse than mine or not the same as mine, but suffering is suffering is suffering. I truly believe that verse, God is faithful, that’s just who He is and He won’t let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with every trial He provides a way out so you may be able to endure it – I Corinthians 10:13

For me, the part inside of me that needed to be tapped into for God to finally make sense or hold the least bit of appeal to me, was first of all hitting rock bottom, having friends from Church who didn’t pressure me into God, who allowed me to find my own way to Him by just being there to answer my questions and sharing with me their own stories, (i.e. my 2011 Season 1 Mizizi class) and the final nail in my “I belong to Jesus Forever Box” was Worship.

Discovering Worship, not just the music and the talent behind the songs, but the fact that it is real and possible to encounter God to really feel it, not just that but also when we pour our love and adoration to Him, He mirrors it right back to us. We are in His image – Genesis 1:27 and in loving Him, we find a connection point to the real meaning of life, a connection point to Heaven and to eternity.

So here’s what I’d end with:

First: if you’re on the outside looking in, quit it with all the “God has a plan, this is how it was meant to be” spiel. Never ever works, Job’s friends tried it, didn’t work. Be practical, be a friend, check up on them, clean up for them, do some chores for them, run errands, be there, do what needs to be done. Volunteer in organizations, donate money to people alleviating suffering e.g. drought, digging wells, point is being practical. Let them talk, let them cry you just faithfully serve and pray and love on them. Man, pray! I don’t know how else some of these things can be fixed. I wish I had some formula for praying that works because it’s truly not fair when you see stuff like that 30-something year old man devastated and in tears. Pray, pray, pray because apart from God what else do we have?

Second: if you’re in the middle of suffering, don’t be alone. This is the worst thing I did for myself. I tried to pretend it wasn’t real and I shut myself off COMPLETELY! Not just with the sick dad thing, but in everything I go through in my life, that’s my coping mechanism. I'm really having to learnt to open myself up more this year, like if I've had a bad day and I just want to get home, get into my room alone and cry, now I get home get in the living room with my mom collapse on the sofa and cry and even if I'm not ready to talk about it, the fact that she knows is awesome because then she can know to pray for me and figure out how to get me help if/when I need it.
Surround yourself with people, not just any people; again, I did that, got into a bad relationship that messed me up even further! Church! I know not every place has a good church, but wherever you are get involved in something, a community group, support group, home group if the situation is extreme, find a decent website that has active social media and get connected with people who at least look like they have life a little bit figured out, it’s a start. God is faithful and He will tailor-make a way out that is perfect for you, but you absolutely can’t do it alone.
And just vent to God. I have grabbed a bat and swung violently on my mattress a lot of times in "prayer", what you think a little human person with a bat can intimidate the Lord ALMIGHTY?! He created all these emotions, displaying them to Him is not a sin as long as it's coupled with the intention of wanting to get it out and move on (Jacob fought with the Lord, right? Physically as a matter of fact until God have Him his blessing. Genesis 32:24-29) fight with the Lord for your answer and as long as as much as you're screaming and shouting, you're listening and watching for Him to speak as well.

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