Susan and I have some very dear friends who serve as missionaries in a closed, hostile country to the Gospel. She posted this stunning and insightful meditation on suffering yesterday:
In life, there are many seasons of suffering for everyone. Some valleys are deeper and darker than others. A few valleys can be walked in the company of treasured friends and loved ones. But the most painful and rewarding journeys in suffering are wrought on a path alone with a good Shepherd to guide the way. Suffering is a helpless journey–one you would never willingly enter. The darkest days of suffering are often those you never dreamed you’d find yourself in. But there you are, and you don’t even have the capacity to express the pain and emotions that are stirred up in your frail heart.
There is something so empowering and sweet to proclaim a sort of surrender in that moment of suffering. Though you feel helpless to stop the pain, you are empowered with the choice to surrender to everything that God has for you to learn in that place. You can accept the journey as a gift of love from your Shepherd. Or you can rail against him and question his so-called wisdom in bringing you to that place. But either path you choose–a path of surrender or a path of bitterness– you are still helpless to stop the process of suffering. What you can do is embrace the lessons and joys of relying on a good Shepherd and glean everything that you can in the depth of that place. Remember that He too walked that path alone, and for Him it was a darker journey– one in which the Father turned His face away.
A sweet song of surrender to suffering:
“If You Want Me To,” by Ginny Owens
The pathway is broken and the signs are unclear
and I don’t know the reason why you brought me here.
But just because you love me the way that you do,
I’m gonna walk through the valley if you want me to.
Cause I’m not who I was when I took my first step
and I’m clinging to the promise–you’re not through with me yet.
So, if all of these trials bring me closer to you,
then I’ll go through the fire if you want me to.
It may not be the way I would’ve chosen
when you lead me through a world that’s not my home.
But you never said it would be easy.
You only said I’d never go alone.
So when the whole world turns against me and I’m all by myself
and I can’t here you answer my cries for help,
I’ll remember the suffering your love put you through
and I’ll go through the valley if you want me to.