Trying to make sense of suffering and its redemptive attributes tends to further my recent aversion to thinking. I am well aware that no matter how hard one tries to fit sadness into a clearly defined catagory, sense is an impossible expectation. However, along the way, I believe we are given reprieve as our Father extends His grace in our direction and blesses us with a moment of slight understanding as foggy as the surrounding details may be. I received an email from a friend today forwarding the website of his good friend who is currently battling Hodgkins Lymphoma. I read his most recent journal entry and found him talking about some of the very things that have been occupying most of my thoughts on the character of God for the last three years, only his writing possesses the kind of clarity of which my thoughts do not. I have copied a portion of his entry below. It's lengthy but worth the read.
"Well, believe it or not, until I was diagnosed, I didn't have cancer, and I didn't believe in suffering. Now, obviously, I have cancer, and now, not as obviously, I believe in suffering. I believe it is cathartic. I believe it either destroys you or takes you to the grave in order that your old self and all of its pretensions, delusions of grandeur, the lust, the flesh, the eyes and the pride of life can be raised up whether that be temporarily or at the last day of the great divide. It is a baptism of sorts, but not being a Baptist, I see no need for any more immersions. The one baptism I received was really a pledge that I indeed would die and rise with Christ. Maybe this happens for all of us Christians over and over again throughout our life. The great Sacrament then is just a foreshadowing of the inevitable, but luckily, if you've been given an understanding of it, you know that you have been informed by it. That regardless of all the privilege, comfort, materialism and wealth of our culture, you've been called to be crucified with your Saviour. But this isn't some kind of masochism only known to Christianity. This is universal - the Church in its Sacrament of Baptism is merely bracing for the inevitable. It is abundantly clear that suffering, all of the let downs, the death of family and friends, the hopelessness we sometimes feel, all of it has been "the inevitable". And so God, in Christ, took on the inevitable in order to accompany us, not to make it go away. That's what I've learned. He's here to accompany me because he can, because maybe, better than I, Jesus of Nazareth knows what its like to have suffered the inevitable miseries of this life. A favorite Professor of mine said that more than anything else, she imagines Christ at the foot of our bed with us, weeping with us as we wake from nightmares that turn out to be realities in the morning. So, have I stopped praying for healing? No. But I have come to the realization that there is so much more than just getting "cured". The inevitable will always be a reality, and because of this, there is something much more curative than getting healed of cancer. The truth, the conviction, and the realization that there is one that accompanies us if we let Him. There is one that can truly say "I've been there". So let us pray for more than just the miracle of healing, but also for the miracle of accompaniment." --Jay Voltz: September 8