Yesterday, I posted about being thankful and the Christian's calling to do so at all times.
However, even though it is our calling, it's much easier to say than it is to do. For instance, in my friend Vimean's post, can you imagine telling her to be thankful as she was crying herself on the floor while her stomach screamed for food? Sure, you could tell her, "Be thankful that the Khmer Rouge hasn't killed you yet. Be thankful you have a roof over your head." These are things to be thankful for, but in the midst of suffering, thankfulness is driven far from your thoughts.
When suffering one's self; when watching a loved one suffer; when thinking of the millions who suffer on this planet on a daily basis, one gets consumed with the situation. It grows on you. It tears at your emotional core. It sucks the life out of you. It leads you to that point where, like my friend on Facebook, you ask, "What is the point?"
Brian, I wish I could have the ultimate answer to that question. If I had that answer, I would probably be on the lecture circuit right now asking for more than Al Gore to give out the answers. Thousands of books have been written on the subject, and despite all these books and the combined IQ's of those who have written them, we still seek the answers.
What is the point to your daughter having the irregular heartbeat, which led to the seizure, which led to her heart attack?
What is the point of her lying in PICU for a month?
What is the point of her losing her cognitive portion of her brain?
What is the point of her undergoing surgery to aid her stiffness only to contract meningitis and have the pump removed?
What is the point of hearing that her brain has shrunk and the only activity seems to be in the stem?
What is the point of one step forward and then several steps backward?
I wish the answer was clear. I wish I could give it to you and ease all of your and Keili's questions. I wish I could resolve the matter for you so that you could ultimately be at peace without worries about what might or might not happen in your future.
But I cannot. My sight is far too limited, and that is one of the problems we face as human beings. Our perspective is far too limited.
St. Paul wrote about this in the great love chapter of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13. He says in verse 12, "12For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known."
We can't see the fullness of the answers. So what is the point? Notice Paul says we see in a mirror dimly. We can't see clearly, but as Christians, we know something is there. But the question is, "What?"
We begin to get the answer in Jesus. For if there was a person on this planet who least deserved suffering, it was Him. He did all the right things. He loved God perfectly. He committed every good deed imaginable. He taught the Truth. And despite all those things, He was betrayed, arrested, tortured, beaten, unjustly condemned, and crucified (you could call that murder, if you like). Yes, He died for our sins, but did He have to die in such a fashion? Did He have to suffer?
In a word, yes. He had to suffer to show that He was not above our experiences. He had to suffer to show that God understands our plight. God understands what it means to lose a child. God understands what it means to watch a child undergo tremendous pain at the hands of others. God knows what it means to watch His Child undergo every parent's nightmare. God is not above our experiences. He knows them fully.
But this isn't quite getting us to see what's in that mirror yet. For if God suffers with us, that can be small consolation. The end result is much more satisfying. For Jesus' story doesn't end with the crucifixion. It ends with resurrection. The final word in the story is a very, very good one. The final word is new life. Death does not have the last word. Evil does not have the last word. Suffering does not have the last word. God does. Every time. That's the Truth.
But what is God's last word in the case of Macie?
I don't know. I can't ultimately see what it is. None of us can. But if we trust God, we know it will be there. Even if the worst should come to pass, God will make things right in His time.
If this is the case for us, what does that mean? How are we supposed to respond? Again, I turn to St. Paul this time the 5th Chapter of the Book of Romans verses 1-5:
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
Suffering builds our endurance, which builds our character, which leads us to hope, and I believe that our calling is to hang on, stubbornly, tenaciously, with reckless abandon to that hope.
This doesn't mean we don't cry out, "What's the point?!" This doesn't mean we don't get angry. This doesn't mean we don't kick a wall or two. This doesn't mean we don't shed tears or get upset. We need to do such things as we deal with our emotions and our frustrations. You can't keep such things pent up inside.
But, we do these things knowing there is something in that mirror. There is something that beckons us. And that something is good. Without that something, there is no point.