(It was either that title or ‘My heart will go on’…)
The general topic I’m about to broach could be summed up in the immortal words of the great philosophers, Chumbawumba – “I get knocked down, but I get up again – you ain’t never gonna keep me down”. It is potentially a dangerous topic to blog about – particularly for a “verbal” processor – because I don’t want to poke around in wounds, and so will try my best to be sensitive.
Consider yourselves warned.
I heard a 50-something man speak to a room full of Christian university students last week on ‘Joy in Suffering’. Several times he said something along the lines of ‘none of you probably know much about suffering’. Either: a) he is naive in terms of what can happen to even young people, or: b) its all relative and it all gets worse. I mean, I know that by that age myself, I’d lived with people experiencing depression, had experienced the slow death of a grandparent through cancer and seen the divorce of my parents. Those things that happened to me were no means worse than the things others have known. I know that there were people present that night who have been abused as children, lost a parent, been bullied almost to the point of self-harm…
Suffering knows no age limits.
But as much as I was rooting for (a) being the case, it would be more likely I, then, who would be called naive. Though perhaps its not so much that it gets worse, just that the more time you live, the more time you have to suffer. Happy thought, huh? I’m not about to set forth a nice neat suffering theology package blog (who am I kidding, as if you’d ever expect that anyway!), I’ll leave that to someone better read and thought-out than I (You up for it?). But, I’m generally feeling somewhat impressed by the sheer resilience of mankind.
When my granda was getting really sick I used to spend the week at university dreading going home at the weekends – not because I didn’t want to see him, but because I knew I’d have to face a house of sickness, sadness and approaching death. When Friday came and I turned up at the house, I was okay – I kept moving, I kept breathing, I kept living and I kept smiling. I had the strength to face it. When I was outside of the situation it was harder: fear, sadness, hopelessness, dread; but right in the middle there was calm.
I’ve seen others endure much, much more both personally and with their loved ones with such courage, spirit and drive to survive… Its truly incredible. As I’ve been thinking about this resilience, I’ve thought about being made in God’s image. That may be random, or even ludicrous to some, but seriously – it just made me think about how often Israel pretty much spat in God’s face and broke his heart, but yet he pursued them with justice, mercy and love. Now, I don’t know how it all fits in – I know there huge, huge questions about all of this, but my post isn’t really about that. Its purely an observation.
Observing it, I am filled with hope and faith that if – or more aptly, when – I’m experiencing difficult times again, that I’ll survive too. Sure, I’ll be most likely foot-stamping, pants-wetting with the best of ’em at the thought of it, but when I’m in the middle I’ll get the strength I need, because I trust that in the end, it’ll be okay. Whatever that looks like.