When our youngest daughter was seven, we finally received a diagnosis of a genetic disorder that explained her developmental challenges. Thus began a new chapter in an old familiar book. Up until then, we had held out a hope that she would somehow, ‘catch up.’ Our perspective on what her limitations meant, both present and future, for her, and for us as a family, were changing. Our other girls, who were fourteen, thirteen and eleven at the time, saw it pretty plain. As we explained the diagnosis and its implications to them, they asked with youthful candor, “So what does that really mean?”
“It means that for Little Miss Sweetness to be healed, it would take a miracle.”
“Oh, so that’s not really any different than it has been?” I had to agree, that from either angle, new or old, the fact of the matter was, we were waiting for a miracle.
In 2 Corinthians 1:1-11 Paul reflects on hardship and comfort. He lays out the premise that when we suffer, we are comforted by God, so that we, in turn, can comfort others. In the midst of this ‘pass it on’ process, God is called the Father of compassion. I’m not prepared today, to take on the whole question of why suffering exists in the first place, nor to argue blatantly that compassion alone covers over a multitude of sins, but rather just share one of those latent perspectives that cropped up one of the umpteenth times around the suffering>God comforts>U give comfort ferris wheel.
There have been a few key intervals at which we have prayed for healing. On one of those occasions, one of the girls asked hesitantly, “If ‘Little Miss Sweetness’ were healed, would everything about her change?” The real dilemma kind of rolled around in an echo, “What do we really want to change about her?” It was a good question; that quandary of which parts are good and which are functionally debilitating. Do we let go of simpleness, and risk losing her characteristic, “Let’s be HAPPY”? Should we resurrect social appropriateness, at the loss of her insistence that even strangers are welcome in this world? How much that we see now, is genetic error, and how much is all-knowing compassion, that the world needed someone to reiterate that God is calling all of us to be his friends; that sorrow and laughter both are to be shared; that forgiveness includes forgetfulness. How much of her is designed to give a God-sighting perspective(John 9)
The ferris wheel may ride through suffering, (more than once around), but if we are able to view it as powered on its way by compassion, shocking us into awareness, then suspending us for a moment in full-vertigo position, so that we can safely disembark from just the right perspective, maybe we’ll weather the nausea and get through the ride. For some good, but othertimes shortsighted, reasons I have soooo been an, ”Oh,let me fix that for you” kind of person. Perhaps what I should have been doing was mustering the courage to ride along on the ferris wheel as it would sing, again per Paul, “God is near, God is near, God is near…see Him working here, here, here…God is always near.”
Note: It is not my intent to trivialize either your, or your loved one’s suffering. I know it is real. While this post addressed rather lightly, the question of suffering, in Riding the Ferris Wheel 2, I hope to address the fear and pain that go with it. Peace, j