My friend Kate recently wrote me a note on the subject of suffering:
"It's pervasive, ever present and does not discriminate. It ebbs and flows from serious to slightly annoying, but is ALWAYS there. It seems there are only two options to this dilemma:
#1 God doesn't care about us and then you are an Agnostic.
#2. God has an amazing plan for all this suffering and it is the means to our salvation.
I would prefer #2 but can't understand it much."
I'd agree with Kate on the preference of #2. I know I'm coming to expect sorrows as long as I dwell in this valley of tears. It's a struggle though because I long for heaven, for Eden, for creature comfort but am constantly confronted by briars.
And whether the thorn is small: waking through the night with a baby. Or big: chronic illness, barn fire, cyclone, ... they all do the same thing. They make my unpraying heart scream, "Help me, God. God, help me. Help me, please, dear God. Help."
Sometimes that's all the praying I do. But it's genuine and it works. I'm met with a strength beyond my own and am made stronger in the process.
I even end up valuing the trial (once it's over), knowing it was the press that turned my grapes into wine.
Knowing all this, I wish I could welcome the trials. Unafraid. I wish they'd stop shocking me like bolts of lightening. I wish I could view them head on with King David's confidence:
"Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
Thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
Thou anoints my head with oil. My cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Amen."