I watched Soul Surfer today. Yes, the acting and dialogue was a little corny compared to the big dollar films, but over all it was quality. …brought tears to my eyes several times. I can completely identify with her story, and as I watched her story, I wondered whether I wouldn’t rather have had a shark bite my arm off than Lyme disease destroy my joints. Even with one arm I could still do a lot more than I can do now with bad joints. But no one gets to pick their own trials. They are chosen for us according to the dispensations of fate – an incomprehensible combination of the divine will and chance. To those who don’t believe in chance, I say: chance is the only way for God to make it fair. When fortunes must be unequal, the fairest way to determine who gets the go and who gets the rub is a pair of dice. But that is the subject of another blog.
The more I suffer, the more I HATE seeing people suffer. I see anyone in a wheel chair or a deformity or someone who lost their house or their loved ones and I want to cry and I want to run up and heal them. I’ve always hated seeing people suffer, but I guess I empathize a lot more now. I’m so sick of it. It’s everywhere… Everyone hurting, dying, hungry for food, hungry for love. Tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, fires, wars…broken marriages, messed up kids, abused children… Everywhere people are suffering – friends, family, strangers – all hurting. I didn’t get the chance to be a soldier, but I feel like I’ve been through a war. And what is worse is that this is the norm for humanity. Sure, there have been brief periods and pockets of truth and justice, an Eldorado here and there, but for the most part human history is about one relentless struggle after the next.
One of my friends recently lost his beloved 23-year-old wife and mother of their 5 month old daughter to a freak heart attack. I can’t even begin to imagine that kind of pain he must be feeling. In the Joplin tornado, a mother’s baby was ripped from her arms and her 3-year-old was never seen again. I heard on the radio the other day that the Red Cross is seeing an “unprecedented” demand for emergency supplies due to all the recent natural disasters and violent conflicts. Some people can just let these things go, but I can’t. It bothers me. It really really bothers me. I hate it. But I don’t want to look the other way. I don’t want to become numb to it. I want to feel their pain because it is real. It is as real as the pain I feel in my own body. I hate it and I want it fixed.
I used to try to pull myself out of pity parties over my physical condition by thinking about how relatively blessed I am compared to so many other people who are suffering far worse things, but that doesn’t work anymore… it merely causes me take on the burden of their sufferings in addition to my own… it tends to make me cynical. It makes me think, why shouldn’t my life be as bad as theirs? I don’t deserve any better than them. Some people are living off of trash heaps right now, and I’m living in a nice house and I work hard not to get fat, and the only difference between myself and them is where I was born – roll of the dice… There are people out there starving right now who have more potential than I do, but I’m here and they’re there and there’s not much I can do besides grieve for them and do good here and hope the butterfly effect will float my small actions here to their dark corner there and change the world in some positive way.
The longer I go on suffering and the more I learn about the way the world really works, the more I feel like I’m taking on the suffering of the whole world. Maybe that is the point… Christ is supposed to come in us before he comes on the clouds. Aren’t we supposed to know “the fellowship of his sufferings”? Perhaps we have to feel what he felt to really get it. Maybe we are supposed to constantly carry around this bag of sharp rocks, this grief for the state of the world. Or maybe not. Maybe we aren’t designed to continually bear it. Maybe it is just unnatural for us to know the details of every terrible thing that happens in every far-flung corner of the planet. Maybe we should push reality out of our minds so we can be happy again. It’s enough to drive a sane person mad. No, in all things there must be a balance… We’ve got to hang onto the world’s suffering and let it drive us and change us and compel us to change things; we’ve got to let it be a cruel whip to flog us to pieces… and we’ve also got to let go of it before we bleed out. Jesus bore this burden. Did he bear it so we don’t have to, or to show us how to carry our cross and bear his burden too? Or both?
Although I HATE seeing people suffer, I know the value of it. Suffering is brute force – a hammer and chisel upon the soul – to shape it in the fashion of our choosing. We cannot stop it from pounding on us, but with truth, hope and love, we can guide the chisel to make a beautiful form of our soul lest it shatter it. Whether a girl loses her arm or a man his hips is of little consequence 1000 years from now. 1000 years from now all that will matter is how we stood up to the challenge – how we loved through it all. I want to get married someday, and I would much rather marry a girl with one arm than a deformed soul. I would rather marry someone who has suffered much than someone who has suffered little. I take comfort in the story of poor Lazarus: someday those who got a bad roll of the dice and had their share of bad things in this life – they will get justice; they will get good things. And those who were selfish, who didn’t care, who closed their eyes to the suffering of the world – they will get justice; they will be cut off from this goodness of which they deprived others.
I’m sorry this is such a dark post. Chances are: I’ll want to delete it later, but I’m going to vow to leave this one alone. I get depressed sometimes. I persevere, and I still have a few things left in life that I enjoy, and I have faith, hope, love, and joy, but there is also a steady sadness in my heart. A sadness for suffering humanity, for suffering friends, for a lack of justice, for unanswered prayers, and hopes deferred. …but “the sun, it will still rise…”