I am a natural optimist. I am pretty good at seeing the bright side of something. Often when faced with difficulty, I find myself focusing on how small the problem is compared to others who suffer more. I try to count my blessings.
Well, the roof blew off my house and we’ve been struggling to live in a hotel for 5 months with six kids, but thank God my children are healthy.
We’re struggling financially, but there are others who can’t even feed their children!
We have to handle lice again? With all these kids? All this laundry? Well, people do this all the time. At least I am in a time and place to treat it.
I could go on and on. There is some virtue in this. It is good to count our blessings. It is good to be grateful for what we have even when we are suffering. But when I hear myself, I realize I am not always counting blessings. Sometimes, instead, I’m dismissing my crosses. I’m playing the it-could-be-worse game.
This is a dangerous game, because it could always be worse. There is very likely someone out there suffering more than you. The Lord does not allow us to suffer in competition with each other. He allows suffering of all degrees and kinds. He takes all that suffering and if we bring it to Him, He helps us carry it, He gives it meaning, He joins it to His own.
Let’s look at how Christ suffered. He is our ultimate model of how to suffer well.
- He didn’t look for it. He didn’t want it. He accepted it. We don’t need to feel guilty that others suffer more than we do. We don’t need to somehow embrace or seek pain. Jesus begged to be spared the suffering He endured. We should ask God to take away our suffering, as well, and then accept God’s will.
- Jesus never said, “It could be worse,” or compared Himself to others who have suffered more. Certainly, His death was horrific, and He let himself hurt and cry and feel pain out of love for us. He didn’t dismiss it or diminish it with comparisons. His sufferings were emotional, spiritual and physical. All of them real. All of them more than enough to save us.
- He was not bitter. While Christ didn’t smile through His trial, He still held the good of the world and His trust in His Father until the end. Whether it be the Scripture He referenced, His concern for John and His Mother, Mary, His gift to the compassionate Veronica, the pain did not change His love and generosity. He did not turn on us, on his friends and family, His Father.
Crosses come in all shapes and sizes. It is OK to want them to go away, to feel terrible about it, to suffer. Count your blessings. Feel grateful for what you have. Suffer. Don’t hide from it; suffer. Pray for help and deliverance. Offer the suffering for others. Give it to Jesus. If He is going to turn your suffering into something real and meaningful, you must acknowledge it. Don’t pretend it doesn’t matter because “it could be worse.”
Copyright 2017 Kate Daneluk