The devastating tornado in Oklahoma ripped open the hearts of those affected as surely as it tore apart their homes. A man turns to stare at a pile of rubble, “I finished paying off my house last week. I’m lucky though, my family is safe. But I lost everything else—including three animals.”
But the young family who ran for safety—and didn’t make it—the death of children, spouses…are incomprehensible losses.
The tornado was the most massive loss last week, but not the only one. I received three emails concerning different people’s deaths. Another friend with cancer called in hospice.
Why, why all this suffering? I know the theological answer. Suffering is the Siamese twin of sin. Sin cursed the world, and so we—nature included—groan, waiting for our redemption.
I want more.
Understanding evades me, but I remember Eccles. 7:2, (NIV). “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting …”
Could mourning teach us how to live?
I think about the non-fiction writers I’ve become acquainted with. Many write from their pain.
- Sarah Kovac writes how she learned to live fully in spite of (or because of) her birth defect.
- Don Brobst helps us cherish our marriages, because his wife died from cancer.
- Yvonne Ortega, a cancer survivor, helps those going through cancer.
- Cecil Murphy writes to male survivors of sex abuse.
- Elisabeth Klein Corcoran shares wisdom on domestic abuse.
Mourning provided the wisdom they share with us. Entering their brokenness—instead of running from it—gave them a ministry that makes them—and us—whole.
I remember listening to a counseling client’s story and feeling a profound sense of gratitude that I understood her pain. My thoughts surprised me. But, I knew I got what she was saying because of my losses. Suffering had carved a depth of understanding I couldn’t have gained from a book or a course. And from that reservoir I offered her hope.
Paul put it this way: “3-5 All praise to the … Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.
8-11 … We felt like … it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally…” (2 Cor. 1:8-11, MSG)
I still don’t understand why some people have to suffer so much. But I know God comes along side the one who hurts and that experience transforms all who welcome Him.
Dear heavenly Father, may Your mercy comfort those who are suffering in Oklahoma and around the world.
Question: How has suffering benefited you?
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Deborah W. Wilson
Photo By: The National Guard