Monday, November 29, 2010

On Suffering I: If Not I, Then Who?

“No one deserves to live that way.” [comment to “A View from the Abyss”]

I am humbled and grateful for the quality of compassion that motivated the above commenter’s declaration and, in its literal statement, I agree with it.  No one deserves to live in the state of terror, darkness, anger, futility and resignation that I experience while staring into the Abyss, no longer even clawing desparately to hang on to the edge of sanity.  However, what is usually meant when people say “no one deserves to live” in any given manner, is that no one ought to live in that manner.  Yet, most of those conditions so decried are necessary within the range of human existence: there will always be abject poverty, war, evil, greed, and psycho-spiritual instability.  Without them, our humanity would be a meaningless single dimension.  (I am not saying that striving to improve the human condition is a bad thing; in fact, I think it is our very striving to eradicate many of these conditions that we find a state of grace.)

Staring into the Abyss, acknowledging death, experiencing eternity in the endless space between heartbeats, is a necessity that gives depth of meaning to the rest of human life.  The question ceases to be “why me?” and becomes instead “why not me?”  If someone must travel the darkness, better that it be I and not someone else.  I would not curse anyone else with my experiences, yet I am grateful for the blessedness of having experienced them.

Is that an absurd contradiction? Of course, all the mysteries are absurd.


  1. I am grateful for the darkness inside me -my addictions, the abuse, the medical issues, the loneliness and anxiety -because they make me hungry for healing. I seek the light and surrender to God in ways that others will never experience.

  2. Life is a mystery, a blessed beautiful mystery. Sometimes painful, lonely, confusing, scary and yet as Michelle wrote, when in the midst of these moments we find the Presence of Divine Love, it is a sweetness that is ours alone: amazing, poignant, soul-deep comforting- that priceless treasure, pearl of great price, the One thing a man would give all he has to experience and hold on to forever.

    All who have experienced this are being welcomed into the fellowship that the apostle John spoke of in his first letter-

    "3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete...But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another"

    I am in good company in this fellowship. Eating dinner in the church hall after a service is NOT this fellowship. Shaking hands with well-dressed people at the preacher's cue is NOT this fellowship. Sitting in a "women's ministry" meeting and obediently making small talk at the appropriate moments is NOT this fellowship.

    This fellowship, with God and those who likewise have stared into the Abyss, it is soul deep and goes way beyond superficialities. For me it is an instant connection, I just know this person has been there and touched the heart of God, or should I say has been touched in the heart by God. I enter into this fellowship by the annointing of the Holy Spirit, and it often surprises me where I find these fellow disciples. We hardly ever agree on everything, yet on the most important thing our hearts beat in unison.

    God is Love. He is the Great Love. He is the Great Lover of our innermost person. And we, we are the beloved.

    Rest in his love, fellow beloveds. SS