Life is hard. There is suffering of all kinds all around us. Some of us are in the thick of it right now. Some of us have been through it before. Some of us have dear friends or family members struggling with something so big right now.
Some of you know my story and some of you don’t. I’d like to share that story with you.
I grew up in a family of 7. I was the oldest, and I had 4 younger brothers. When I was in the 5th grade, my family was playing baseball in our yard on Sunday afternoon. It was a glorious day, and we were having a great time together. After we were done, no one could find my 3 year old brother. After hours of searching, we found that he had wandered away in our neighborhood. There were no fences and everyone had a big lots and it was pretty wild. There was a pond, and my brother followed our dog into the pond. When we found him, he was dead.
Fast forward 8 years, I was 20 years old and in college. Home for the weekend near Christmas, we celebrated a night of decorating our tree and being together as a family. The next morning I awoke to find my 17 year old brother had passed away in his sleep due to a heart arrhythmia.
One family. Two deaths. Two brothers. Losing a child is something no parent should have to go through. Losing 2 children is unthinkable. Losing a sibling is tough. Losing 2 is unbearable. My family of 7 is now a family of 5. My twin brothers are my only surviving brothers, and they are 11 years younger than me. I very often feel like an only child. My life was so completely different than it would have been had these tragedies not happened to our family. I know that my childhood was forever changed because of these incidences. There is no way that parents can lose a child (or two) and still function in a normal way. My parents really did the best they could given their circumstances. I’m not saying my childhood was bad just very different than it would have turned out if things hadn’t been this way.
Years of thinking and processing and working through these emotions have brought me to the place that I am now. I don’t for one second think that this was God’s plan. If we have a loving God who created us and loves us, why would He cause pain, heartache, suffering? Why would He cause a family to lose two sweet boys?
However, many times I have asked “If God could raise Lazarus from the dead, why didn’t He raise my brothers? How could he allow this to happen to them, to us?”
I do know that through it all, all the tears and sadness and sorrow, God has been there. He has been holding me and crying tears with me.
How do I know this? On the eve of Palm Sunday and at the beginning of Holy Week, I know that my God knows exactly how I feel. You see, He went through the exact same thing. For all of us. He knows how we feel. He took on our suffering just for us because He loves us that much.
Jesus was on top of the world on Palm Sunday. They shouted and praised and waved palm branches. Fast forward a few days, and he’s on the cross. And while God could have stopped it all, He didn’t.
Jesus wept and was defeated. He walked the journey of suffering. He endured the ultimate death. So I know that he knows my suffering. He feels my pain. He hears my cries. And he completely understands.
I know that suffering is hard. I know that it is deep and dark and depressing. I know that it’s so easy to get buried in our grief. I know that’s so easy to question God, to ask why this happened. To ask why He didn’t stop it or take it away.
But what we need to remember is that we aren’t alone. God is with us. God loves us. He took on suffering so that He could be with us forever. God loves us through it all. If we can open our hearts to Him and listen, He can take our pain and use it for good. To help us grow, to help us help others who are suffering. To help us become closer to Him. He will use the pain and the suffering to help us become better people. It will help us to reach out to those who are going through hard times as well. We can use those scars to become beautiful.
God knows what we have been through because He went through it too. And He loves us with an everlasting love that will never go away. So don’t let His love and His suffering be in vain. Don’t let your pain and suffering drag you down and keep you there.
Life is a beautiful journey. Hard and difficult and easy and exciting, all rolled into one. Your suffering and pain are a part of that journey. Listen and learn and look to God for ways to turn that pain into something good. Then His suffering, and ours, will not be in vain.
Are you in the midst of suffering now? Is someone you love journeying down the road of suffering? If so, please know that you can always reach out to me, Marcus or Ginger for love and support. We will confidentially pray for you. We can support you and your family with food or assistance during life's difficult times. Maybe you just need to share your story. We are there for that too. Sharing can lead to healing.