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Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Steady Drone of Suffering

How would you intercede for a person...close to hitting rock-bottom? Where would you turn for help? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 726).

First, what kinds of things would not be helpful to say for someone close to hitting rock-bottom? Hurtful things would include: you're all alone in this world – nobody cares for you or loves you – you have no purpose in life and never will, just vegetate in boredom and pain and wait to die. Almost equally as useless (perhaps even worse) is to validate the sufferer's sense of loneliness and pain by being singularly cheerful and unrealistically optimistic: just put on a happy face and all will be rosy and well. I know a man presently within an assisted living facility. He is totally blind. The staff of the facility is uncaring and only marginally helpful. The prospects are that he will be in the situation until he dies with day after day of dullness, boredom, and pain. If asked what I can say or suggest to encourage this person, only one helpful thing in the end seems possible. Only one thing seems not Pollyannaish. I would remind him that our Savior underwent great suffering. And that he loves us deeply. And that he can help us bear suffering and find purpose wherever we are. I would remind him of the words of the song that inspired my mother during times of hardship, and which I keep in reserve in case of need; for surely none of us knows how bleak the future can become for us – everyone is vulnerable to outrageous fortune. No one can say for certain that the experiences of Job may not come to resemble their own. The hymn realistically sensitive to the plight of the suffering is “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”

What a Friend We Have in Jesus”
Text: Joseph M. Scriven, 1820-1886
Music: Charles C. Converse, 1832-1918

1. What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.

2. Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.

3. Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he'll take and shield thee;
thou wilt find a solace there.

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