Blood dripped and flowed from multiple places on his body.
My sandal once caught on the rim of a step and caused me to fall head-first into the corner bead of a wall. Blood spurted and oozed down my entire forehead and cheek , covering half my face by the time I got to the bathroom mirror to asses the damage: a one inch slice to my skin.
So, I imagine…
Blood dripped and flowed from multiple places on his body as HE hung there by three spiked nails. I wonder how much clean, untainted flesh was left during those last hours, if there was any at all.
My pain was localized and gave me a headache for a few hours even after I was cleaned up, stitched up, and sent home.
I cannot fathom the pain he suffered after being up all night and beaten and dragged and whipped and slung onto the wood and nailed and hauled up for all to see as he heaved each breath of air.
That is the epitome of suffering.
That’s the question I have asked myself many times during trials of suffering.
Suffering, upon suffering, upon suffering.
Was birthing a stillborn baby not enough?
Was having colorectal cancer not enough?
Was losing a young adult son to drug overdose not enough?
And now I have breast cancer…. is this enough? My experience tells me, no. There will be more suffering to come.
Why all this suffering in my life? Why all the suffering in your life?
Pondering this for years, I have an answer – maybe not the only answer, but I think its a pretty good answer.
The answer begins with a question:
Why did Jesus suffer to die on the cross?
Anyone who has attended Sunday School or church for a season knows the answer: Jesus died for us, for our sins, so we can go to heaven. This is exactly what I told my children as I raised them in the Way.
How quickly, in our own suffering, it is to forget that and cry, why Lord, am I suffering?
If we are to emulate Jesus in all we do, it clearly follows logically, that if Jesus suffered for the benefit of others then our suffering just might be for the benefit of others. And, because Jesus knows suffering, He authentically pours out compassion on us during our sufferings.
“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT
I lost a baby and I was later able to comfort three young moms who lost babies too.
I had cancer and I was able to publish a book on the survival of that and share my testimony of hope.
I mourn a son who died from a drug overdose and have been able to write and speak publicly about that tragedy, offering heartfelt comfort to others.
The been-there-I-know-club is necessary for authentic compassion; Jesus is the King of that club!
I am currently halfway through breast cancer treatments and I know that God has at least one somebody He will soon put in my path for me to encourage in this kind of fight.
Yes. Suffering is necessary.
I am no savior by any means. But Jesus is my Savior, your Savior, if you choose Him.
Jesus’ suffering work on the cross is finished; one day His work through each of us will be finished as well, but until that day comes, I encourage you to keep your eyes focused on Him who knows it all and be ready to wrap your arms around someone else’s shoulders and offer authentic compassion from your been-there-I-know heart.