“Sufferers want to be ministered to by people who have suffered. They are suspicious of people who appear to live lives of ease. He (God) has given a role to messy, wimpy people like me. He has made us His ambassadors of reconciliation, and suffering gives us credibility with a hurting world and demonstrates God’s sufficiency to meet our needs.”
by Stephen F. Saint in his essay,
“Sovereignty, Suffering, and the Work of Missions”
Could this be true? Is it possible that those people who are part of my little world really don't expect me to be perfect? Then why do we so often seem to shy away from people whose lives are marked by pain and suffering? My experience has been that many of us are really confused about this aspect of life as we know it.
So frequently we want to look up to people who appear to be "all put together," with everything in their life still "intact." We want to hope that it is possible to have it all, all in one place, all at the same time. Hope is a good thing . . . . but my observation has been, over the years, that when all we are allowed to see of another person is their victories, their success, and their cheerful, smiling faces, we lose hope. Because we know that our lives are NOT like that, and they never will be.
So, should we go around whining and complaining about all of our struggles? Should we constantly bemoan the pain that we have experienced? That would make for a pretty miserable world! So what is the balance? It is found in one word: Honesty. There is a huge difference between constantly complaining about our very real experiences of pain and suffering, and living a life that honestly expresses our brokenness. After all, our very salvation is a gift that was purchased at great price through the broken body of our Lord. We can be no less humble.
The gift of honesty offers the balance where God can use our lives to reveal His joy, His grace, His mercy, His forgiveness, and His presence IN THE MIDST of the pain, suffering, and brokenness. It doesn not need to be one or the other . . . . we are not doomed to an existence of either the "messy and wimpy" alone, or the cheerful, pretend life of hypocrisy. It is only when we discover that God gives joy and peace in spite of the messiness of life that we can then share that truth with other people who are hurting.
Even if it makes a few people uncomfortable for a minute, remember that the message of God's grace is so much more powerful when you hear it in the words of one who has experienced His grace because they needed it - not because their lives have never been touched by tragedy and they can only speak of God's grace in an academic context. His grace is real, and we need to be real, too, so that the world knows how real is His love, mercy, and truth. "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." The shackles that imprison so many of us in that dark place of pretense will be broken and you will, indeed, be free from the bondage of hypocrisy.
I hope you will take a minute to visit our hostess this week for In Other Words, Kathryn at her blog, Expectant Hearts. There you will find links to the other posts by this week's participants, and you can leave your link so we can visit your blog, too!