GENDUSA COLUMN: Why do we suffer?

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, August 3, 2022

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A child will require stitches each day, and a father will break his leg in a fall. An aunt needs a hip replacement while her husband’s rotator cuff quit revolving. A sister will endure the pain of a broken heart. Gall and kidney stones will become thorns in our innards while diseases attempt to land at jet speed on our unsuspecting souls. Car crashes will occur, and who knows when a bullet will graze or harm us?

What do we do when our parts wear out, are damaged or broken, or when sickness invades us?

My husband is sporting a cast from surgery on a misfunctioning heel and Achilles. His recliner will probably need replacing at the end of the six months it takes to completely heal that old heel. In the meantime, since my legs still work and my ears hear, I run when he calls my name.

If I make it to the pearly gates one day, I will ask God, “Why did we suffer on earth?” I believe I know the answer but still would like to hear it from the boss.

Would we seek paradise if we didn’t have any problems and our bodies didn’t occasionally break down?

Would we search for God, pray for help, and comprehend hope? Most of us aren’t as grateful as we should be anyway, so if our lives had no bumps and bruises, would we still be thankful for the problem-free times?

I suppose God views our lives in nanoseconds rather than years. He knows that authentic living is not on earth but with him in eternity; it is only there where suffering ends.

Unquestionably, some of you in the reader-land don’t believe me, or there is life after death. However, in my humble opinion, falling apart with faith is far better than falling to pieces without support.

Of course, I don’t assume for a minute I can change someone’s mind regarding theology, but I do think we can plant seeds, and God will do the reaping.

I am no preacher, but it seems to me we are seeing a whole slew of misery going on today. Folks, we must never give up on our journey with life. Indeed, the road can often be filled with roadblocks, but patience, optimism, and endurance will eventually put us back in the driver’s seat. Pessimism in our lives is akin to falling into a patch of Sumac; it’s poison.

Kentucky just endured a catastrophic flood event, and news teams were there to cover the story. A reporter interviewed a couple whose home was washed away, losing all they owned. “How will you deal with such devastation?” the young man asked the couple. Without a pause, the wife replied, “We are good; God will help us as He always has.”

We can lose all we have, suffer immensely, and yet survive such anguish because faith is the provider of hope. If we lose trust in God, we join the ranks of the frantic, angry, distrusting complainers we have all met in life. Who wants to join that group?

Suffering builds character, humbles us and gives us compassion for others who are living in tribulation.

I endured an event that completely changed me when I was a young woman. At the time, I knew God and loved him, but boy, I thought, “I am not going to live through this one!” It seemed I was handed too much pain and sorrow to survive. “Why did this happen to me?” I cried.

It took a few years, but I finally understood. Because of my intense pain, God knew I would empathize with others who endure suffering, telling them, “One day, your despair will lessen, and your understanding will increase.”

Mama always said, “Courage and character are built by those who walk through hurt and emerge stronger.” After walking through pain many times, I see God clearer, and his purpose for me is better defined.

We are given free will to decide how we thrive on earth. We win, we lose, we fall and we rise. None of us are assured we will have breath tomorrow, but when we keep or find our faith, we will triumph each day even when we are broken.

God, who holds the golden key of mercy and love, is in the middle of our free will, illnesses, broken hearts, violence and misfortunes. He does not cause our suffering but strengthens us to travel through it and find the glory only he offers.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know they are good for us….” Romans 5: 3