Sunday, June 8, 2014

On Suffering

Suffering, trials, disappointment, and troubles.  We all go through them.

Two months ago my expensive iron broke.  I had a small portable iron in the closet. It barely put out enough heat and took forever to iron anything, but I decided to use that for the time being.  Then 2 weeks later my washing machine broke.  I made weekly trips to the laundromat to wash clothes for a month(!) while trying to figure out how to pay for a new one.  We decided to save some money then purchase a new or used one.  Then I was prescribed a medicine that insurance wouldn't cover and cost $204 for a month supply.  I needed the medicine, so there went some of the washing machine money.  Lastly, and the worst, our hot water heater stopped working.  The hot water heater we had replaced a year and a half ago.  It was still under warranty, so we called the company who put it in and it was decided a part broke and would be under warranty, but not the labor.  The part would take 3 to 4 days to come in and the cost would be $180.

We live on one paycheck and have everything we need, but our budget is tight.  I'd love to have a huge savings account and no debt, but sadly we don't have either. So we were trying to figure out how to pay for an iron, a washing machine, costly prescription medicine, and repairs for the hot water heater all in one month.

I started to get a little annoyed.  Why did everything have to hit on the same month? Why does the cost to live seem to rise so much every year? Why do others have so much and we have just enough or sometimes not enough?

I was irritated by our situation, and the heating water on the stove for four people to take baths for 5 to 6 days certainly didn't help me any.

I quoted this scripture to myself:

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
 In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!
 I have overcome the world."  
 John 16:33 NIV

So I prayed for God to send us a check in the mail for $750 to $1,000 to cover the costs and give us some extra for whatever we needed.

And for some reason he didn't answer that prayer.

...for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Matthew 6:8 NIV

I love to read blogs and came across a few blogs that shamed me.  I thought I was going through suffering, but on these blogs I met, dear ladies, sisters in this thing called life, who were really suffering.

I read of the lady who was suffering with cancer and her medicine was causing painful mouth ulcers that made it almost impossible for her to eat.  She has three children, the youngest 3, and wonders how much longer she has to live and if the 3 year old will even remember her.

I read of the stay at home Mom of 5 young children, whose husband decided one day he didn't want to be married to her anymore and took up with her best friend.  She moved back to her hometown and in with her parents and tries to be positive and is working on building a new life for herself and her children, while trying to heal from the betrayal and abandonment from someone who had promised to be with her until death.

I read the blog of a young mother with a 4 year old girl.  The doctors have told her it will be impossible for her to have any more children.  All she ever wanted to be was a Mom, with lots of children.  She is trying to be positive and enjoy the blessing of her daughter, while dealing with the grief and reality that this will be it for her and her husband.

What surprised me about each of these ladies is that they are not living in despair, not mad at God, and in fact are even thriving in their suffering.

"Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." 
Nehemiah 8:10

During this time, I picked up from by bookshelf, one of my favorite books, Some Wildflower in My Heart by Jamie Langston Turner.  It had been probably 8 years since I had read it.  It's such a well written book and really dives in to suffering and how we have a choice, to let bitterness overtake us or to choose joy and believe that all the suffering and trials we go through are apart of our journey and that God will redeem all of it.  That things that happen to us are not tragic, not disastrous, not calamitous, but somehow beneficial.  I read this book and oh, how it was just what I needed to read! 

One of the characters in the books says she has, "no way to decipher the meaning and the purpose of suffering, but that its imprint upon the scroll of mankind is foreordained".  That we cannot understand it, nor do we need to.  That we have to reconcile that God is good and he allows, and even demands suffering.
  
So here's how my small trials worked out.  I used a Kohl's 30% off coupon and got a great deal on a new iron.  Our hot water finally got fixed and the company gave us a discount off our bill.  It was decided that I would only need the medicine for one month.  And then my dear father-in-law called us up and said he wanted to purchase a new washing machine for us.

I know my trials were small, but to us they were big.  I have so much to be thankful for.  

I know no one is exempt from trials. I still wonder why dear people, like my parents, have to suffer or had to in the past. My parents are positive, God loving, and such giving people.  They are also filled with joy.

All I know to do is this:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

Here's to living a life filled with joy, fully trusting God in the pain and in the triumphs!