For All the Suffering

For All the Suffering

I wonder if every generation thinks about the state of the world, “This is the worst it’s ever been.”

Our generation’s current troubles—acts of terrorism, rampant abortion, random school shootings, clergy sex scandals, police brutality, racial divides, and human trafficking—are just a few potential sources of injustice and suffering that plague us.

And that’s on a macro level.

If the camera panned in to our individual lives, the potential for encountering suffering and sadness is unending.

In the past two weeks…

I gut-level grieved as I watched their slide show. The mother’s face changed from utter joy to complete sorrow within moments. It easily could’ve been me during one of my births.

  • A woman in our Bible study shared that her friend’s two-year-old son died the night before while he slept. He went to bed and never woke up. They don’t know what happened, his autopsy is pending.

There are no words. Again, close to home.

  • In a new movie about human trafficking, The Abolitionists, I watched a story of orphaned Haitian babies that were deprived of every basic human need. The staff neglected them. They lived in their own filth, starving for food and love, but were instead sold to anyone who would pay cash.

You can’t sell human beings, but people do. My mind couldn’t comprehend where some of those children may have ended up.

Finally, the cumulation of suffering I’d observed punctured my thin defenses and I sobbed the whole way home from that movie.

“Jesus, come and get your babies,” I pleaded with him. “Just come, make this world right…because it’s really bad now.” I began to feel incredulous and emboldened as I prayed. How can you, God, watch all of these suffering mothers and children and not immediately rescue them? How can you let the state of the earth dwindle towards greater and greater depravity? Don’t you care?

What pulls at our heartstrings gives us a window into our souls. Where our love roots are deepest, there also is the birthplace of our sorrow over the darkness and compassion for suffering in the world. I came unglued over these stories of mothers and children, because as a mother caring for my children, I could sense how devastating any of these scenarios would be in my life.

I eventually sensed God’s response to me a few days later. “What your heart is feeling is the Spirit at work in you. That is my heart for this world, too. I am grieving along with you in all of these things, but also for all the other suffering in the whole world, simultaneously. I know how bad it is.

Don’t you know I know suffering, daughter? I watched my own Son be tortured and put to death. But I know the future, too. All will be made right, and I will be the great Comforter to all who have suffered on Earth.”

“Never again will they hunger. Never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:16-17, NIV)

Maybe it’s this generation’s unparalleled access to information that gives us the impression that the world is a darker place than ever before. Or maybe it’s always been that bad. Or maybe as He’s using motherhood to make me more tender and compassionate, I am sensing it more.

The justice and peace that we long for is coming, and until it does, you and I are Christ’s heart, and body, and hands, and feet in the midst of it.

Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)

Christ Has No Body

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

For all the suffering, there is hope.

For all the suffering, there is love. In Him, through us.