September is Suicide Prevention Month, and yet yesterday in the news I read of another death by suicide. This grieves my heart.
In Western culture, we have a low tolerance for pain. We live in a world of instant gratification. We have a headache, and we pop an ibuprofen. Sinus pressure — no worries, there’s a med for that too. Something happens to our psyche when we experience pain, not just physical, but emotional pain that lingers…nothing seems to make it stop.
We don’t know how to handle pain. In developing countries, pain is an expected part of life. No one thinks, “If I live a good, moral life I will evade suffering.” People expect suffering, and they suffer well.
So how can we learn to suffer well? There are several things that come to mind. First, we have to be teachable. Is there anything to be learned as a result of the pain? Two, we have to learn to trust God in the midst of the pain. Remember Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? They knew God was able to rescue them from the fiery furnace, but they said they would continue to worship in him even if he did not.
There have been times in my own life that I questioned God. “Are you really there? Are you listening?” I’ve learned that He was always with me, but his ways are not my ways. I had to decide, will I trust him even when the outcome isn’t the one I want?
Suffering stinks…there is nothing fun about it. In no way do I want to belittle the pain of others. Instead, I think we need to learn as a culture how to suffer well. Several years ago, I watched a young man suffer (and ultimately die) from leukemia. He knew how to suffer well. In the midst of this terminal illness, his faith never wavered. He continued to reach out and help others despite his own pain. He did not lose his purpose in the midst of his suffering — instead, he rose to fulfill it.
I urge you to consider that maybe, just maybe there is a purpose in your pain. Will you strive to find that purpose? One lady I talked to after the suicide of her husband said:
“The decision that I was not going to blame myself and then the decision that everything good that could come out of this would. I was not going to just let it come. I was going to go after it. Tackle it and pin it down and tie it up and say ‘you’re mine’…I didn’t know what normal would look like or feel like. I just knew I had to get there.”
This woman was determined not to let her circumstances defeat her. Resolve to suffer well. Don’t give up. Be willing to seek help; you don’t have to suffer in isolation. As long as God is on the throne, there is hope — in other words, cling to the hope that God sees you and longs to help you through your time of suffering. I promise you, better yet, God promises to never leave or forsake his children — so don’t give up! Keep fighting the good fight.
I love the contrast in this picture…If you focus on the bottom half of the picture, you see death, but as you see the big picture you see new life. God sees the big picture and we can trust him.