If you are like most people, you are probably silently suffering. I figured that the case anyway. I don’t think the suffering is uncommon. In fact I think it the norm for most people. The suffering can be caused by a variety of things, and usually multiple things all at once.
I say silently suffering because I don’t think most people like to admit that they are suffering. Maybe they think it comes off as weak or something like that. Our culture has a firm hold on us insisting that we just suck it up. I don’t know how healthy that is though. At what point do we say, stop sucking it up and be honest with yourself and others?
Since when was suffering in silence and solitude a virtue? It’s not. It’s a coping mechanism, and not a good one at that.
Let’s call the thing what it is – we are all suffering in some way. I am suffering. There – I said it.
For me suffering looks/feels like something just sitting in the pit of my stomach that don’t feel “normal” – whatever that is. It’s taking on all the crap feelings of those around me. It’s looking at the insanity of the world and saying “doesn’t anyone else see how insane this is???” Yes, I know there are others who see it as well. But there are times when I just have to wonder – if others see the insanity, why does it persist? Why don’t we do something to put a stop to the insanity?
I suffer when I read the news and see the disregard and devaluing of people.
I suffer when I hear people degrade others.
I suffer when I watch idolatry of partisanship.
I suffer when I hear arguments that literally contradict statements just made and go against verifiable evidence to the contrary.
I suffer when I see outcast people being ignored, berated, or worse.
I suffer when I see how wealthy of a nation we are and yet we can’t supposedly afford to help people. But we always have enough to fund weapons that destroy and kill.
I suffer when I watch unnecessary death take hold in the name of…well, does it really matter? It’s unnecessary.
I suffer when I watch people be willfully stubborn, which ends up just causing harm to themselves.
I suffer when I hear Christians embrace really crappy theology that is abusive, destructive, and antithetical to what it means to follow Christ.
I suffer when I witness anxiety, fear, anger, hatred, meanness, harshness, and more in our world and our communities.
And I want it to end. I just want to stand up and shout at the top of my lungs – “STOP!” Why do we insist on maintaining systems that cause suffering for people? Why do we insist that some need to suffer, just because we suffered in the past? That makes no sense whatsoever.
Are we really that insane?
I want to get off of this roller coaster. It’s making me sick. Yet the coaster doesn’t ever come into the loading area so I can get off. Does that analogy even make sense?
I don’t like feeling this way. Yet the world doesn’t seem to care. Or maybe it just prefers that we all feel unwell. Misery loves company after all.
And in spite of all of this, we go on. Why? Because it’s what we are called to. Here’s what I’ve come to understand about Jesus.
The cultural depictions of him, and popular songs about him are pretty weak for my taste. They minimize Jesus far too much to a message of “be nice.” If only that’s all faith in Jesus we’re about. I don’t think Jesus cared about being nice. Nice is for people who are living comfortably and don’t want their world rocked. I see too much of the world for this. That doesn’t make me special. I just choose to look at the insanity in order to find a way to make it stop.
No, instead here’s what I understand about Jesus. He sees the insanity of all of this too. And through the force of will that only God has, he loves the world. He loves the people. He loves all of creation. It’s not logical or rational. It makes no sense. And I hear Jesus saying – “Of course it makes no sense. But then again, I didn’t call people to rationality. I called them to love.”
Hmmm. Love isn’t a weapon to use agains the insanity. It’s a bandage that goes directly onto the wound of the insanity that goes on. It’s the medication designed to make contact with the insanity so that it can heal. Love stops the continuation of all the crap. It breaks cycles. It ends abuse. It offers hope that there is another way – a better way.
That’s about the only thing that makes sense in this world. And it’s what I hold onto. And I invite you to hold onto it as well. Let us love, even though it makes no sense. Let us love, even though we will be met with anger, fear, and hatred. Let us love, even though we will be labeled as an other. Let us love, even though we’ll hear excuses as to why others can’t love right now (or ever). Let us love. It is in love that the insanity stops.