A friend of mine just buried a child for the second time. Though I’m not present with her, I can picture her standing next to the grave, unable to stop the tears from falling as she watches her husband lower a tiny casket into the ground. I can imagine her heart aching to the core, and her mind racing with thoughts of why…I can see her returning home later today, still having to carry on normal activities and chores like an ordinary day, but in her heart this day is forever tainted with grief. What could possibly be the reason for heartaches such as this?
This question is asked by many, in many different ways. “Why would God allow such terrible things to happen to those He loves?”
I venture there are likewise many answers to this question. Just as we were each created uniquely, our stories are each unique, with unique twists and turns and caverns along the way.
You can never truly know what it’s like to experience someone else’s pain, even if your own painful experiences or circumstances are similar. But you can allow yourself to try, to empathize with their pain by imagining how it feels to be in their shoes.
Empathy comes naturally to some people, and very unnaturally to others. But in either case, it’s a loving, conscious choice to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. And in our “just keep scrolling”-culture of not wanting to stop and think about things that are sad or uncomfortable, it is perhaps even more important to practice empathy.
Something I have learned through my own journey is that it is usually the painful experiences that allow me to relate to others and others to relate to me. The longer I live, the more varieties of pain I experience as the consequence of living in a broken world. But this has allowed me to more easily practice empathy, and try to see the world through someone else’s eyes.
And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight
I know this verse relates to the moment Paul experienced an encounter with Jesus, but I like the symbolism of a person who formerly could not see what was always there suddenly being able to see clearly.
Through my own painful experiences, my eyes have been opened again and again. But the truth is that I’m so thankful to finally be able to see. This is one of many reasons God allows His beloved children to experience suffering.
I would not go back and trade any of my painful experiences if I could. I would rather experience hurt and be able to see than live in a bubble and be blind. I love all that I’ve learned from my suffering. Of course there may be a
lot few tears shed along the way, but I will continue to be in awe of all that He is working out for good.