I Want to Fix Your Suffering

Fix youI want to fix you.

I want to take that thing that hurts and remove it from your heart. I want to set right the brokenness in your body. I want to make you physically whole and healthy. I want to take away your grief, sorrow, ache, and your loneliness. Where there is something wrong, I want to make it right. I want to relieve your suffering.

I want to heal you.

Chances are you want to be healed. That thorn in your side, you want it removed. That cancer in your body, you want it gone. That mental illness that stalks your mind, you to be free of it. That lame leg, that liver problem, that kidney failure, I’m sure you want to heal. You want freedom for the emotional trauma that resides in you from the abuse you endured. You want healing and wholeness.

I want to make things right, but I can’t.

I am helpless in the face of most suffering. Sure, there is some good I can do, sometimes I can ease the pain or help set small things right, but overall, I can do a lot of nothing to ease let alone fix your suffering. I don’t have the salve to heal your wounds. I don’t have the know how to set your bones. I don’t have the miraculous touch to remove your pain. I can’t give sight to the blind, set the captives free, or give good new to the afflicted. Facing most suffering, I am small, helpless, hopeless. I am weak, frail, and in need of healing myself. I can’t fix you.

This is the part where I’m supposed to say, “but Jesus can.” I’m supposed to tell you that he can heal your wounds, that by his stripes you are healed. I’m supposed to tell you that he can free you from the suffering you have day in and out, over and over. I’m supposed to point to Jesus and say it’s his power that made the blind see, the lame walk, the captives free. He did it before and he’ll do it again. Jesus still heals and you are loved by him, therefore, Jesus will fix you. That’s what I’m supposed to say. But I don’t know if I believe that Jesus will heal you or me.

I don’t know if I trust Jesus to fix you.

I mean, I believe Jesus heals. I believe that he can do all he was sent to do: give hope to the afflicted, sight to the blind, freedom to the captives. All the things I can’t do I believe Jesus can do, I just don’t know if I believe he will.

This is a point of ongoing tension in my faith. I believe that God loves us dearly. I believe that God is powerful and mighty and can act in natural and supernatural ways. But I don’t see God using his power to relieve the suffering of those he loves. It makes me angry, doubtful, and sorrowful. I want God to act, I want God’s hand to move mightily among people to bring wholeness, freedom, life. Yet he remains silent.

God remains silent while children are born with birth defects. God remains silent while cancer ravages the body. God remain silent while psychosis takes the mind away. God remains silent while children are abused and scarred for life. God does nothing but stand by and watch while brokenness, evil, and entropy slowly devour the people made in his image, the people he says he loves.

Times like this it’s hard for me not to see God like an asshole.

Sickness brings death. Pain brings death. And death brings grief. Grief eats at our bones like a dog going for the marrow. We are sick, we are suffering, we are crying out “How long O Lord? How long?”

I imagine all the good I could accomplish if I had God’s power for one day. I imagine all the relief and wellness I could bring. Freedom from PTSD, cancer, trauma, diabetes, schizophrenia, meningitis… If I had your power for one Day Jesus good would be seen here in the land of the living. Instead, you keep your power hidden along with yourself. They say you are close to the hurting, close to the suffering. Yet you remain silent and close-fisted with your healing touch.

I don’t understand, and it hurts.

The only consolation I have, the only hope I am given is that someday you will walk this earth again and your healing will fall like rain. I can do nothing now but pray for the day of the Lord, when all will be made well and all will be made well and all manner of things will be made well. All I can do is hold onto that hope and try to believe that light will extinguish the darkness. All I can do is pray that this hope proves true.

I can hope and I can sit with the suffering, listening to the groans and groaning with them. I can be a companion to lament, a brother to grief, a sojourner with pain. I can try and simply be there because I have no answers, no magic fixes, no supernatural power. All I have is myself, as broken and frail as I am. I can offer myself to you in your suffering, and I can hope with you for the day when Jesus will set things right when grief will be banished, sickness be forgotten, and pain be dispersed. I can hope for you when you can’t. I can offer you the body and blood of Jesus as a reminder that you are not forgotten by God. You are loved.

I don’t understand how he loves us yet lets us suffer. This tension won’t be resolved. But I know that even though death seems to swallow us up now, it does not have the final word. Resurrection is coming, perhaps the early blossoms are starting to bud even. It’s still a way off, so we need each other to suffer with each other, to have compassion not quick, pithy answers that dismiss suffering. We need each other to go through suffering, to survive the pain, grief, sorrow of this life. We need each other to retain hope.

So no, I can’t fix you. I can be with you. I can listen. I can cry with you. I can show compassion and love. Perhaps these small things will give you a glimmer of hope that you do not suffer alone and that pain doesn’t get the final word. Resurrection is coming, perhaps I can remind you of that.

  • Addie

    I have asked God this a lot – why, why, why… and yet He doesn’t respond to this… never the why questions…. but He has answered about other things
    – Im using this
    – You need this right now (even if it hurts)
    – Use the pain
    – I am not fair and I don’t have to be
    – Its not about the why, its about who I am… trust me
    Yeah, sometimes God is a jerk… and sometimes He has a terrible sense of humor… but then I have to realize that if I choose to make Him my God, then I have to accept all of Him (just like He accepts all of me) – I cant just pick the parts that I like or that I understand… if I choose to make Him my God, then I have to let Him be my God in all of it, or really He is God in none of it….. and since He made me, I have to believe He also knows that Im human and I get mad and angry and hurt – especially with Him sometimes, and He is perfectly ok with that – even more than that, He understands – and He sticks around
    *and just so this doesn’t sound like some sweet platitude from someone who doesn’t understand… I struggle daily with depression, anger, cynicism…. I have been broken by the church and no longer attend… Ive been desperately hurt by other people – and Im not sure those scars will heal. I don’t believe that “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle” – that’s bullshit… I have lost my faith in almost everything, except for God – He may be silent, He may be just watching, heck, He may be laughing when I fall sometimes, but at least I know He is still there – I cant say that for most anyone else

  • Leanne Popkes Sype

    I love your honesty in this. I am just finishing up Timothy Keller’s Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, and I got to say, while I still don’t understand God’s ways (and I won’t), I have a better understanding of and appreciation for suffering. I don’t like it, but I accept it without the anger now. God is God, and while He seems silent, his presence is always there. Not only that, I am convinced that knowing the “why” behind the pain won’t make it better or any more tolerable… we still won’t understand why there couldn’t be a different way.

    Anyway, fabulous piece of writing here as always.

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