Suffering is a universal truth. No human lives without also suffering. It is a relative state of being, of course, measured by how far awry things have gone from previous circumstances. Suffering, some would argue, is necessary in order for us to know the highs of pure joy. One extreme cannot exist without the other.
Nonetheless, we try to escape it, avoid it, ignore it. Yet, like running up gravel on a hillside, we inevitable fall back into a pit of despair. What do you do when you're in the depths?
Are you the Wife of Job? Do you place blame? Do you loudly and bitterly complain? Do you put energy into dragging others down that gravel hillside? Do you try to convince those suffering alongside you to give in? If so, do any of these tactics ever relieve your suffering?
The Company of Job, Inc., in its production of Job: A Postmodern Opera of Biblical Proportions, captures the futility and tragedy of Job's wife's response to the situation in which they find themselves. Listen as Pamela Bowman sings My Man's Got the Blues:
Even in suffering, especially in the midst of suffering, we must choose to live fearlessly. God never promised to shield us from hard times. But He steadfastly accompanies us through them. We don't need to drag others down into the mire with us, if we acknowledge that we already have a rock to lean on when we need rest. To live fearlessly means to trust that we will survive our suffering, and not just survive, but come out on the other side of it burnished to our better selves.
Today's Assignment: Go ahead, sing the blues. But don't get stuck there like a broken record. Finish up, because there's burnishing to be done. Face the lows so you can feel highs. Today, and every day until your suffering has passed, continue to smile, extend encouragement to at least one other person, in your Book of Lists write 3-5 things for which you are grateful.