How do the Un-suffering live before the Suffering?
They will see the glory of the Lord,
the splendor of our God.
3 Strengthen the weak hands,
steady the shaking knees!
4 Say to the cowardly:
“Be strong; do not fear!
Here is your God; vengeance is coming.
God’s retribution is coming; He will save you.”
5 Then the eyes of the blind will be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then the lame will leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy,
for water will gush in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
7 the parched ground will become a pool of water,
and the thirsty land springs of water.
In the haunt of jackals, in their lairs,
there will be grass, reeds, and papyrus.
8 A road will be there and a way;
it will be called the Holy Way.
The unclean will not travel on it,
but it will be for the one who walks the path.
Even the fool will not go astray.
9 There will be no lion there,
and no vicious beast will go up on it;
they will not be found there.
But the redeemed will walk on it,
10 and the redeemed of the Lord will return
and come to Zion with singing,
crowned with unending joy.
Joy and gladness will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee. Isaiah 35
Fires rage. Babies die. Marriages struggle. Children get sick. Moms get terminal cancer. Friends get hit by speeding cars. Hearts break. All…can…seem…hopeless. I have been the one on the floor, crying out to God, and wondering how another day has dawned when I seem to be stuck in the darkness of a night with no end! I have been the one cursing the ones who can still get up, have their normal morning routines, and go about life as if nothing has happened – when I know full well nothing will ever be the same now! Yet, in these early summer days, it has been I who has sat down with her cup of coffee while others are pounding floors. The irony isn’t lost on me.
I stood at the counter just this morning wondering how I can butter bread and then have the audacity to sprinkle cinnamon-sugar and pour french vanilla creamer in my coffee when suffering still rages on. Seems so heartless; like I’m part of the pack of those who live with their eyes tight shut to a world of pain around them. But, oh, I am so very aware!
So, I stood there in between buttering and sprinkling and pouring and I asked God, “How? How and why do we who are not having to currently endure the suffering go on and still show we care? How did Jesus, the ‘Suffering Servant’ do it?” There had to be many He passed by, whom He did not heal, on the way to the others that He did. Did those who miss out deem Him uncaring, unloving, unconcerned? When one man was healed from blindness and another was not and both were declared to be for God’s glory, could the one still blind see that? When the widow gave all the mite she had and Jesus noticed but didn’t run to change her circumstances, did she find that she was still blessed more than others who had their earthly riches restored? How did the lame feel about the people who walked passed them? How did a grieving family feel about another’s healed child? Was there any balm? Any hope? I mean, “For the love!”
Yes, “For the Love!” And because of Grace. Love and Grace and the Gratitude for it all is how you do it. It is how the suffering one suffers on, endures, and is sustained through it all. It is how the one not currently suffering gets up, walks out her door, and smiles at the present and the future. It’s not that she is unfeeling, unloving, unmerciful, or unaware. Oh no! If anything she is more aware than anyone knows, for she has walked that road before. She knows it well. It’s just this – sometimes it helps the fallen to see someone standing. It can inspire the sick to see the healed. It can help the broken to see those made whole. It can rain down mercy for those in the fire to see the blue sky above the clouds. It can make the darkness tremble and flee when His Light is being held high. Sometimes the greatest love we give in these times of despair is to keep living. Not for ourselves; not with uncaring or unaware attitudes. Not as if everything is “just fine.”
On those days we can rise up, not for ourselves, but for those still bent low. We can give them a hem or a shadow or an olive branch of hope and promise that this too shall pass. We can look at them with eyes that know – that have been there and are now here – and pass on strength, kindness, love, and grace. When their mouths cannot open in praise, we can stand close to them and sing thanks and praise for them. When their hands and arms are limp with pain, we can stand close and raise them up in surrender and honor of God who makes all things new and glorious! When bodies and marriages and dreams are fading out of sight, we can stand close and hold them close and look up and say, “Just a minute, sister…brother…Help is coming! Your Hope and Healer and Prince of Peace is riding toward you, swiftly and surely! You are not forsaken!”
So today, as I walk, smile, and laugh, I do it all as a prayer and a praise. With every step of life I live today, I do it for the one who cannot. With every smile I share, I do it for the ones who are weeping. With every moment of “normal”, I live it for my friends who haven’t known a day of that for so long. I live today, making my steps a prayer for the days of living that are ahead for you. I praise today, knowing that it may be hard for you right now, but also knowing that through such an action walls can fall down! I will march around you today, around your walls of circumstance, and I will declare His might and glory and redemption of days! I will not go on today unaware of your hurt; I will take my every moment and make it a prayer for you. I will pray God raises valleys and lowers mountains and makes a straight way for you!
26 So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it. I Corinthians 12