Suffering is not a good word in the English language. It is not something that we long for; it is not something that we want to be a part of our lives. In fact, we have learned that it is not supposed to be part of our life, especially as Christians. But I have found out that I was taught incorrectly! I was lied to, I was tricked, swindled, mislead… Whoever made me believe that Christ would keep me from suffering sold me a bucket of lies.
I have come to understand what many of you already understand, life = suffering. There is not suffering without life, and there is no life without suffering. My wife and I have recently come through the roughest 9 months of our lives! Suffering stopped being an abstract concept and somehow became part of life. Since last August Jill and I have been pregnant 3 times only to lose all three of our children through miscarriages. I thought I had learned what suffering was after the first miscarriage, and definitely after the second. But now after three, I can only hope I understand a portion of what suffering is, this is a hard lesson to understand.
One thing I have noticed about suffering is that there seems to be a fraternity of suffering. It is a somewhat exclusive club of those that have suffered. It’s one of those groups like “Fight Club” that is secret, unless you have been initiated. If you have not joined the “club” then you don’t know the other members, but as soon as you join the Fraternity of Suffering it is easy to pick out the other members of the club. Through the look on their faces, the half hearted smiles, and laughter that is keeping them from crying you see the other members of the club all around you, and you love them. There is a saying “Misery loves company.” I had always heard that, and thought it was a negative thing, but now I have a new understanding of the saying: those in misery love the company of others in misery. We love the fact that there is a Fraternity of Suffering, and we love that we can tell who all the members are.
Through this time one of the biggest changes in my life has been the change in the kind of music speaks to my heart. I do not mean the genre, but rather the message. I no longer identify myself with songs like: Victory in Jesus, He Set Me Free, and Victory Chant; but now I find myself identifying with songs such as: Blessed Be Your Name, He will Come and Save You, Who Can Satisfy, Mighty to Save, and God Will Make a Way. Pride in my current condition does not really ring true (not that it is not true that I have victory, and have been set free), only looking forward to the fact that my God is Mighty to Save. That is what gets me through the day, the week and the year.
Maybe you are part of the Fraternity of Suffering as well, we can relate, we can share communion. The best news about the Fraternity of Suffering is that we get to point each other to a time when our club will no longer be needed, when Christ will wipe the tears from our eyes. Oh, what a day that will be!