I write and speak primarily about suffering. I didn’t choose this topic- if it were up to me, I’d be an expert on effective parenting, or gourmet cooking, or physical fitness. Or wealth management. I’d even settle for waste management. Life would be easier and more fun if my experiences centered on something less bruising. My mom agrees. Years ago, after hearing me speak about the death of my son, she offered a suggestion: “I love hearing you talk about suffering. But I think you’ve spoken enough about it because God keeps giving you more material. Your next topic needs to be joy. Tell God that you don’t have enough first-hand experience with joy so He needs to give you more!”
My mom, one of my favorite people in the world, has a great sense of humor. We have laughed about that statement many times, though I know she was only partially joking. She’s weary of watching me suffer. She wants me to have joy.
In the ensuing years since that talk, my life has gotten increasingly difficult. I have cried more, screamed at God more, and felt more miserable than I care to admit. But at the same time, I have experienced a deeper joy than I could ever have imagined. For the first half of my life, my joy seemed dependent on my circumstances. When my life was going well, and things were easy, I felt happy. I felt that God was blessing me, though I couldn’t find much time for God. I was too busy enjoying the good life.
But when life unravelled and the days felt unbearable, God’s presence was unmistakable. Even when my major accomplishment for the day was making it through without a breakdown, there was something extraordinary about my time with God. I desperately needed Him. To give me strength. To revive me. To help me hang on. It was the only way to survive.
And through those excruciating days, God spoke to me. He comforted me through His Word. He whispered to me in the darkness, as I lay awake on my tear-stained pillow. He sang songs over me of His love. View full post »