Joy has left our hearts;
our dancing has turned to mourning. Lamentations 5:15 (NLT)
Suffering leads to sadness.
This past summer, I took my youngest daughter to visit her best friend in Paradise, CA. This is the town that several years ago was almost completely wiped out by a wildfire.
While my daughter was hanging out with her friend, I got to visit some of my old stomping grounds. I stood in an empty field and in that spot where I was standing was where my office was at the church. A huge church that held hundreds of people was gone.
I drove by our old house. Nothing there. Everything was gone. All the places that I remembered were gone. The places my children grew up in and played, gone.
But that wasn’t the saddest part of the experience. The most gut-wrenching part was meeting with old friends, who used to be vibrant, full of hope, people we worshipped with in the past, and did ministry with just a few years ago. Now I was sitting with some of these old friends and you could feel the sadness in the air.
Why were they so sad? Because everything was gone. The hope of a future had diminished.
I am confident that God is going to do something amazing for my friends and the town of Paradise, CA, but in the meantime, my friends suffer. And when we suffer we lose our joy.
I believe that the following statement is true:
SUFFERING IS BEARABLE
If you read the whole book of Lamentations, you might not believe what I have just said to you. And in a way you shouldn’t believe it because the statement is incomplete. Here is the truth:
SUFFERING IS BEARABLE IN COMMUNITY
When you have a group of people around you that love you and support you, you can get through the tragedy. You can get through the pain. You can get through the heartache. You can make it.
When we suffer, we must suffer together. That is the only way.
It’s when people suffer alone that tragedy comes.
I have a family member that, while I was in college, stayed home and dealt with the tragedy of his mother and father and their relationship falling apart.
The worse part of this situation was that nobody knew that it was happening. And day after day he experienced the destruction of his family.
I came home from college to visit and found out that for years he was dealing with this tragedy in his life and the life of his parents. And he suffered through this alone with no support, no help, no hope.
And he now finds no connection with God’s people anymore. And I believe it’s because he had to go through this challenge alone.
So don’t go through the pain alone. Seek God, seek others. Get the support you need.
Because I am confident that when we suffer together, good things can happen.