Monday, July 19, 2010

Lessons in Suffering: He Is There


"Who will tell whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies." -- Erich Fromm

I have heard people express discomfort to feel the world rushing by when they are in crisis -- to know that life keeps going and Earth keeps turning even when their own world is in turmoil. I experienced this odd sensation myself a couple of years ago when Joe became very ill and was rushed from our small community hospital to a more metropolitan facility for emergency gall bladder surgery.
Following the ambulance through rush-hour traffic, it was difficult to keep pace with the paramedics. I kept up with the ambulance for most of the drive into town, but the distance between us grew as traffic thickened and more cars crowded the lanes between us. As we approached the interstate, I watched the swirling red lights speed into the distance while I sat several cars back stopped at a red light.
Looking at the traffic stalled around me, I realized as a tear rolled down my cheek that no one in the cars around me knew that the ambulance weaving its way into the distance held the only man I have ever truly loved.
I looked at the drivers around me, considering where they were going. There was a businessman in the turning lane to my left, waiting impatiently to merge onto the interstate. Up since 5, he had endured a hectic day of meetings. He had put out one fire after another at the office all day, and he still had one more appointment before he could head home. Ahead of me, a mini-van rumbled with activity and chatter as several school-age children headed to soccer practice, their mother making mental notes about the afternoon's agenda as she called to the children to use their indoor voices. To my right, a young woman glanced at the clock, trying to decide if she should head to the gym as planned or give in to her craving for a caramel frappe instead. Her cellphone interrupted her thoughts, and she smiled to see that he did call after all.
All those people driving along life's highway -- focused on work; in the throes of raising their families; hoping this could be the start of something special. 
Feeling the world rush by me as I sat in traffic, I felt alone in my grief. And yet I felt strangely comforted as well. How many times had I crossed over that interstate before, my heart and mind full of my own thoughts and plans? Even in the midst of Joe's health crisis, I realized how blessed I am to have cruised through most of my life, blissfully unaware of the road blocks that lay ahead.

Realizing that Earth keeps turning even when we are suffering brings comfort when we realize that life can go on because God holds the future in His hands. The Bible reminds us that God is sovereign (Psalm 103:19), faithful (2 Thessalonians 3:3) and unchanging (Malachi 3:6). When we understand these aspects of His divine nature, we can trust His promises to care for us.
  • "God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).
  • "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
  • "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).
  • "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze" (Isaiah 43:1-2).
When we find ourselves stalled along life's highway -- with traffic tangling, roadblocks looming, dreams crashing, red lights swirling in the distance -- we can feel comforted knowing that He is still in charge. And even in the midst of struggle, if we open our eyes, we will see that His blessings still surround us. Above us clouds roll across a beautiful blue sky. Wildflowers bloom along the roadside. And even on our darkest days, the sun will rise and set.
God knows. And He cares. Though the world rushes on, He is there. And that makes all the difference.

"[A]nd, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20).


Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

You came to my mind today and I sent up a prayer!

I just came through an extended illness. While I always live with Juvenile Diabetes, the bronchitis I developed made it difficult to breath for about a month... much worse than anything I remember going through before.

I had to keep reminding myself that "HE has not given me the spirit of fear" as I walked through that dark night of the soul.

I am much better now and once again can say that trials only serve to mold us into the women He wants us to become. If only that could be done by eating chocolate instead. :)

Michelle said...

I so needed to hear this today. Thank you so much for this post.

God Bless,

Michelle Mitchell

glor said...

A very beautiful post.

Sonja said...

You are so right! And these words are what so many need to hear. He is gracing you with a 'new thing' during these days Melissa.

Thanks for sharing.


Judy said...

Through every trial, no matter how bad it got or how much hurt it caused, in the end, I can look back and see the hand of God who sustained me throughout. His way is always the perfect way. It's an old saying but one I always try to remember....Let go and let God!

Hugs to you dear friend!

joy said...

what a beautiful post. Thank you for that, and amen!

Anonymous said...

Melissa, That was a beautiful post. Now I am wondering how you are doing??? Are you struggling with life while recovering from your back surgery? I know you have had to slow down. It must be hard to take it easy when you love so much to be active and do so many fun things for your family and friends. I pray that everyday you are becoming stronger.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Take care. Debbi

Sue Sparks said...

Amen. beautiful post!

Susan said...

Melissa: You are an eloquent and inspirational writer. Loved all your images and all so true. Good reminder of WHO is in charge at all times. Susan

Kristi said...

You have such a way with words, Melissa. I really enjoyed this post, also.

Love Being a Nonny said...

The sweetest part of this post:

" one in the cars around me knew that the ambulance weaving its way into the distance held the only man I have ever truly loved."

Praying for you.

Jan said...

Such beautiful words and thoughts. Thank you for these, and the ones recently left on my blog, as I recover from my series of surgeries. I hope renewed health and strength are returning to you, too. Next summer is our summer not to spend in hospitals and on family room sofas recovering!

sweeter and the bubbas said...

You need to write a "short devotionals" book. This was such a great post...I think we all needed to hear that today. I love you!

Anonymous said...

Such true and beautiful words Melissa! Thank you for them. I hope you have been healing well, you are in my prayers.

God Bless.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

And He does care and never, ever forgets us or leaves us behind. He is in that car with us or in the ambulance or the bed or the unseen guest at the table as we type.

I hope and pray that you are better each day, dear Melissa. I think of you and see you dancing in the sunlight, twirling with the girls twirling on either side of you!



Karin @ 6ByHisDesign said...

I have felt my world stop while the earth kept spinning. Your words are wise. Thank you for sharing them.


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