The least amount possible

December was packed with trouble. Just after the massacre in Connecticut we got word of a dear friends cancer coming back, and another’s not responding to treatment as hoped, and another’s landing her in the hospital with complications.

I asked a friend a few years older than me if had I reached some stage of life typically filled with struggle and illness? She didn’t know, since her life is similarly filled with some extremely ill friends and loved ones.

I find myself bargaining with the Lord.

Let me be the strong one Lord. Let me take care of the suffering, not actually suffer. Let me see my kids grow up and we’ll finally begin fostering. Cure my friend and I’ll sign up to run a marathon.

That last one was PURE desperation!

One night, scanning CNN for more gruesome details of the shooting in CT, an image came to mind. I hesitate to say, “vision from the Lord.” Maybe I made up the image, but it seems consistent with the Word and character of God, so I’m clinging to it as truth for my life in this season.

In my mind was a picture of the Lord with his arms stretched wide holding back an incredible wave of suffering and pain. He reminded me that He carefully measures, precisely and with grave concern the exact amount of suffering that enters humanity – the least amount possible to open the eyes of His beloved people to the truth – we are not invincible, we are capable of great and terrible evil, we need a Savior.

This makes sense to me. The catch phrases about God bringing about pain in order to strengthen or refine, or that a better day is just around the corner, don’t as much, although there is some truth there too. The people I know who are suffering are some of the most refined people I know and they really and truly might not get better.

I’m holding on tight to that “least amount possible” part and trying to help those who are bearing witness to the brokenness of the world in their illness and suffering. It feels strange to pray for my friends cancer to have a kind of maximum impact in her community, but that’s how I pray.

I do keep trying to bargain with God about my own part in bearing witness. I can only hope He’s heard it all before and plans to stick with His good and perfect plan for me and the world regardless of how many marathons I do or don’t sign up for.

3 thoughts on “The least amount possible

  1. Great thoughts! I love the picture of God holding back the tidal wave of pain. I’m leading a study on Romans 3 tonight, and studying for it has reminded me how desperately we need Jesus. I started thinking about the question “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I think the more accurate question is, “Why do good things happen at all?” The reality is your vision — humanity is depraved and capable of all manner of evil. The fact that there is good in the world testifies that God is merciful and generous.

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