Often people request prayers for deliverance, inner healing, or physical healing. But more frequently they simply want a man or woman to whom they can turn–not because of what this person is able to do but because of what he or she is: a person who makes them feel wanted, a friend to love them, one who generates an atmosphere of warmth and trust in which they are able to love in return. ~Brennan Manning
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put Him (Jesus) to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” … But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” ~ Jesus, King of The Universe, in Luke 10
Oh beloved, it is true.
Life is going to jump up and bite us once in awhile. It has been happening to this fool of a writer, here in China. Geopolitical shifts, oppressive governance, terrible company policies, and the very hand of our Creator, is forcing us out of our third country in six years. We are losing jobs, losing Special Ed help for our son, and we are facing a potential long-term family separation as we work on immigration issues to get my Filipino wife and son settled in America.
It has, to be honest, been one of the most difficult five months of my life.
However, the truth of the matter is that our suffering is important, but it must serve a purpose for it to make sense. Suffering for its own sake, is but evil turned inward. It is selfish and whimpering; leaving only bitterness and disillusionment in its wake.
Beyond my own suffering, there are billions of people around me (and you) who are going through terrible times. Finances. Health. Relational stress. Oppression. And the list goes on.
There has to be more to this. And thankfully there truly is.
One of the classic (and most compelling) arguments for why evil and suffering is allowed by G_d, is that it always brings about a greater good than the original evil. If we are honest, we realize that this is true. But, what we are not always aware of, is that we can be part of the greater good and payoff when things go wrong. (see Always Pain, Always More G_d )
Can we see it?
Suffering in our own lives is a way for us to tune-in to the suffering of others. It focuses our thinking in ways that nothing else can. It is something of a tonic to clear our vision that is normally so clouded with our own selfish desires and problems.
And, it is in this space where we can really make a difference.
What if we allowed our circumstances and pain to drive us towards others, instead of into our own little, selfish shells? What if, when things all go wrong, we allow it to make us ready to help the person next to us, and to whom the same thing happens next?
I am having a front-row seat on this kind of thing. Just as we are getting our feet under us, a coworker has just been laid off – here on the other side of the world. The beauty of this is, that I can come alongside this dear brother and really, truly and really, know what he is going through. I can listen with ears that understand. I can touch with hands that have just been held and kept warm by others.
It is painful. And it is worth every moment.
So, are you going through a tough time? Good. Surely beloved, you have no need to waste this moment. Go. Find someone else who is hurting too. Walk through it with them. Spend yourself for them. You will not lose anything in the giving.
Tonight is your night. Time to spend yourself into someone else’s life, that your suffering may make sense.
Written by Makala Doulos: Makala Doulos is a child of G_d, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, and a teacher to his students. But mostly, he is a prisoner set free by Jesus. Love has invaded his life, crushed it, and made it new. Now, G_d’s Love is what constrains him to live in full surrender to the freedom The Father and Son and Holy Spirit have bought for us all. Grace and Peace to you all.
Daily Quote: To be held in the heart of a friend, is to be a king. ~ Bruce Cockburn
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, For I have hoped in Your ordinances. Psalm 119:43