Have seen this meme making the rounds the past few years. Man, I am NOT with this cold, compassion-less cliche that does nothing but amp up the pain and suffering of other people a thousand times worse than it already is.
While we can certainly draw inspiration from one another and the various ways we suffer, the Suffering Olympics and the comparison shopping people regularly do when it comes to pain is a cancer in dire need of eradication.
Seriously. We don’t have to continue regurgitating this same old wore-out script. We can think differently. We can approach suffering in brave new ways that actually move towards the pain.
Like Jesus does.
If we’re going to do it like that, then what about the kid in Malawi whose a 26 pound starving skeleton and has HIV? By that logic, the woman whose mother just died needs to just forget her “problems,” put on a plastic smile and pretend like everything is perfect!!!!!!!!!!
…Even though it’s NOT.
…..What about the kid in the village down the street who weighs twenty-FOUR pounds who has HIV AND is blind? Does this mean the other kid who weighs twenty-SIX pounds should just sweep his pain under the rug and think about how fortunate he is to be two pounds heavier with merely AIDS and 20/20/ vision and pretend his suffering and disease doesn’t really exist?
Pain and suffering is to be embraced with every fiber of our being and submitted to the lordship of Christ. Not swept under the rug or to be in denial of. This is where the realest, deepest transformation comes from whether it’s a woman with a stuttering disorder or a man whose entire family was just murdered.
Human pain is human pain. It’s not a competition. And we have no right to tell someone else that their pain is illegitimate or fake.
As followers of Christ, we are to mourn with those who mourn. Not shame them or call their manhood or Christianity into question for doing what Jesus says we’re blessed if we do: mourn.
Thankfully, there are better ways to respond to mourning than “Just get over it,” and “Everyone has problems (and theirs are so much worse than yours).”