Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It's all relative.....and real

God has been teaching me much about suffering lately - mine and others. In the past, I didn't have room in my life for both - I have always been very consumed with my own stuff. But this time, as I recover from yet another surgery (#15 to be exact), God has given me eyes to see suffering more how He sees it.

I heard today of a friend who is having very major surgery that will alter the course of his life FOREVER. In light of what I have just been through, I am tempted to be ashamed for considering my own suffering of any consequence. After all, his is much more serious, difficult and extensive than mine. On the other hand, many of my friends would look at my trial of the past few weeks and tend to feel silly at the thoughts of how naughty their children have been or how little time they've had to connect with their busy husbands.

We are creatures of comparison. We look to the right and to the left, above and below, behind and ahead to measure up where we fall in the spectrum of trial and suffering.

"Mine is bad but it is certainly not as bad as his - but, wait, what's she complaining about? How dare she think she's got it rough - try walking in my shoes for even a moment!"
The internal dialogue continues as we measure out the suffering continuum and plot our location from day to day. Our level of suffering may seem relative compared to our fellow man but it certainly is real. Whether it appears monumental or trivial - it is our reality. The question is not, "How much am I suffering compared to the next person?" but "Where do I RECOGNIZE Jesus in my current suffering? Where do my eyes need to be opened to His character, His Truth and His redemption in my life?"
God is grieved at the suffering His children have to endure on this earth. And yet, He promises hope in the midst of it and final triumph over it one day. He sent His Son to suffer incomprehensibly so we would not have to suffer eternally. Compared with His suffering, ours is relatively small and yet, very real. Dump the vain pursuit of comparing and focus on Him who suffered for our ultimate deliverance.

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