Day 26: Appreciating Sorrows
Surely your goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23.6
“The discovery of a deep wound can be a transformative gift or a wrenching sorry that opens the heart and soul to longing and realized grace which is at the core of [the Christian experience].” -Pegge Bernecker, 88
All people experience sorrow. In sorrow we choose to become bitter or hopeful.
Suffering is an invitation to connect with God and others—to receive support and care.
The potential for spiritual growth, and ultimately redemption in sorrow, is this: It is possible to experience gratitude and appreciation for what has been unbearable.
Possibly you have seen the film Gladiator. The protagonist, Maximus, is wounded unjustly and his family killed. Slave traders find him wandering the desert and treat his wound. The treatment? Maggots to eat away the rancid flesh and allow the good flesh an opportunity to thrive. In his delirium, Maximus tries to scratch the worms away from his deep wound, but his new friend says, “No. They are helping you.”
Similarly, the pain of suffering is sometimes healing us.
We do not need to go out of our way for suffering. Just show up for your life, and life will bring the challenge of pain and loss without any option on our part. It’s important to note that God does not cause suffering or use it to punish people. That is not the nature of God we learn from Jesus.
Free will and the nature of us leave room for suffering enough. We choose our response.
Remember, there are psychological steps in the grieving process that help us. Hope is a spiritual gift. The pain experienced as suffering runs its course is a pain that God understands. God gives spiritual comfort and sympathy, and the comfort of our friends who have suffered before us.
May God be merciful to us in all things.
Find a quiet place outdoors and sit still. What suffering in your life has become a blessing of sorts in the present time? How did the shift in your understanding occur?
What hurts you now? How are you experiencing God is this present suffering? What do you need God to do?
End by reading / praying Psalm 23.
The 10/40 Challenge this week is to memorize Isaiah chapter 55. On Monday, rain and snow fell in northern Colorado—snow as low at 7,400 feet. While we are full of gratitude for the rain and snow, let’s spend 10 minutes/day for the next 7 days memorizing this Hebrew poem. Isaiah 55 is God’s message to the family of God, attributed to the prophet Isaiah who lived in the 8th century BCE.
Did you miss the intro? Start here.
[This six-week devotional is based on a daily life retreat by Pegge Bernecker and her book, Your Spiritual Garden: tending to the presence of God. St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2006.]