A few months ago, I read this article about how Christians tend to revert to “autopilot optimism” when talking about suffering. Basically, we don’t like the messy sad business. We want to rush to our happy ending. And it’s true–I fight that instinct every time I write here.
I always want to be honest, and yet I definitely struggle with a desire to tie it all up for you—to find the positive spin to every situation and every post. But I also know that wouldn’t be authentic. So I sit in indecision and consider how painful honesty can sometimes be, and there’s radio silence about what’s really happening in my heart (maybe you’ve noticed?).
What I want most is to bring you Truth, and the Truth is that there is a really happy ending and we have every reason to be optimistic about that. But it’s also true that we can still suffer and still feel face-in-the-ground miserable while in possession of that Truth. That’s the piece I’m wrestling with now.
Some of the scriptures that God is slowly, patiently, lovingly boring into my numb, bruised heart right now:
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. [I guess this answers the "Why me?" question. Why not me? Suffering is not unusual for anyone living in this broken world.] But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings [and remember from 1 Peter 4:1, Christ suffered in the flesh], that you may also rejoice and be glad when glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13)
Therefore, let those who suffer according to God’s will [meaning: this suffering is ordained, which is a risky thing for me swallow] entrust their souls to a faithful Creator [I love that God's creator attribute is used here. Our powerful over bodies, powerful over minds, powerful over stress God rules over all as the Creator. This God can be trusted.] while doing good. (1 Peter 4:19)
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God [while he allows this suffering in your life] so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you [this part blows my mind. I keep thinking about it, praying it, hoping I can someday grasp what this really means. How do I cast my anxieties on him and really let them go? And how can I fully absorb and live like I understand how much he cares for me?]. (1 Peter 5:6-7)
And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you [Please, please, please!]. (1 Peter 5:10)
I’m quoting the Bible, but does that mean I feel great and have my happy ending all figured out? Not at all. But sometimes that’s the realness of it. The ending isn’t visible from this step in the journey, but the Truth always is.