Although my dear friend Paul Lambert wrote the following blog prior to the horrific Las Vegas shootings of October 2017, his message deeply applies to that heartbreak, too. The main lesson I've gained from this is that even though many of us weren't in Las Vegas, it doesn't mean we're not suffering. All of us are in pain, and all life experiences come with lessons. Let's learn ours.
by Paul Lambert
The events in Puerto Rico exhibit suffering and misfortune in a way that impacts us all. Suffering, whether personal or seen from afar, has consequences – it causes us to pause, to lose our edge, and it impairs our confidence and momentum. Because of these consequences, suffering can make us feel literally stuck and paralyzed until things get better.
"When suffering knocks at your door and you say 'there's no seat for you,' it tells you not to worry because it brought its own stool."
People in Puerto Rico have our attention right now, but without a doubt, someone near you is probably suffering, too. It may be a family member, a relative, a good friend, or a coworker. It may be that they are feeling unconnected or unheard, experiencing an emptiness inside, suffering extreme financial pressure, or suffering from a physical condition they aren't openly sharing.
Many Americans have been marginalized while they suffer. Let's start our week this week by committing to being more aware of those suffering (especially those we know). Let's be more active in comforting them, befriending them, and doing our part in addressing the source of their suffering.
You may be suffering – yourself – today, too. Right where you are. Right now. Take a moment and examine your situation. Have you ever thought there may be an upside to suffering? I believe there is. Discovering things through suffering may be an important part for what's next in your life. While suffering, we are open to discoveries that otherwise wouldn't be, that may have a direct effect on our future.
Suffering comes wrapped in many different packages – but in the midst of struggling, feeling defeated, or dealing with unbearable stress and pain – remember God is working.
Concentration camp survivor and author Corrie ten Boom has some wonderful thoughts on these subjects:
"Don't bother to give God instructions, just report for duty."
"Make sure that prayer is your steering wheel, not your spare tire,"
"Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God."
I'M GOING TO RE-READ THIS BLOG OFTEN to strengthen my faith and be reminded that God is present and at work during my times of suffering. How about you? Always remember you are not alone, you are loved and forgiven, and you are meant to move on and get beyond situations that seem intolerable.
Wishing you a courageous week ... Your friend,
– Paul Lambert