A Turn in the Suffering :: When It's Bigger Than We Understand


I have felt so aware throughout this suffering series that this subject is vaster than any bits and pieces of a blog series — even a whole lot of those bits and pieces strung together in a month-long series — can cover. 

I told Kirk that writing this series has felt like offering a tiny taste of perspective each day on one of those tiny pink plastic sample spoons you get at Baskin Robbins when you want to try an ice cream flavor before ordering your scoop. Each and every post of this series has felt like a tiny pink tasting spoon like that, and I feel like I could write whole book chapters on each post — each post that examined how suffering can affect us, and each post that has examined ways we might hold the suffering and learn what it can teach us. 

Not to mention all the perspectives that weren’t included in either side of that exploration yet.

This subject is just so big and vast. 

And this morning, as I was walking along the beach in prayer with Jesus and talking with him about all this, I felt so aware of the truth of this. It was like he looked out across the vast ocean stretching out for miles beside us and swept his arm out toward it, as if saying, “See this? This is its vastness. It’s true.” 

Sometimes our actual experience of suffering feels like that, too. 

There’s a vastness to it. An imperceptibility because it can be so all-consuming and great. An inability to pull back and see or even comprehend anything rational when it comes to what we’ve suffered or seen others experience. 

Sometimes it’s just too big to understand. 

And I think, in those places, we sometimes just keep walking — that that’s all we can do. Keep holding the tension of what is hard and what seems necessary. Keep living. Keep feeling. Keep knowing God and ourselves. Keep trusting that something in all of this matters, even if we may never know why. 

I think there is dignity in this way of holding our experiences. 

Because just because something doesn’t make sense or cannot be held in our minds doesn’t mean our experience of it is less valid or that there’s no meaning in it at all. Who are we as we live inside that inexplicable complexity? What will we choose to believe? What will it make of our faith? What will it make of our lives?

These are some of the questions suffering’s vastness invites us to hold, I think.