Rachel Pollock reminds us in her reflection on “My Suffering Is a Blessing” that we all endure suffering and enjoy blessings throughout the year, and we in the body of Christ can be there to share in all of them.
I had to update addresses before I could send Christmas cards this year. There were joyous updates. I added names of friends that got married, had babies, or finalized adoptions. It seemed there were more sad updates. Some of the names I had to remove because:
- they had divorced or died. The worst was when an entire entry had to be removed because both spouses had died.
- a father had committed suicide, and this affects his wife/children/grandchildren daily.
- a child had lost the battle with leukemia.
- A spouse had died when he seemed way too young to die.
- they have dementia, and a letter would confuse them.
When I wrote the addresses on the envelopes I reflected on some of the suffering:
- those who are single and would like to be married.
- many couples that are barren or have not been blessed with a sibling for their only child.
- many families that have experienced a miscarriage.
- those who the doctor recommends no more pregnancies for the mother’s health.
- those families that have so many children that being pregnant one more time feels like a burden for them.
- those with cancer or Parkinson’s or depression.
- those that are unemployed or not in a job they really want.
- families that live very far from extended family.
- a family with a seriously ill child.
It is even more difficult to write a Christmas letter with updates about our family. What a downer it would be to put in the letter that we have had six miscarriages. I would love to add in our letter that our youngest is actually younger than our four-year-old.
There are some obvious blessings to reflect on as I update the addresses:
- a mother that is counting the days that she is still pregnant after many miscarriages, and it seems that she will get to rock and hold a little girl in a few months.
- families that are healing after the death of a loved one or a divorce.
- families that were able to adopt a child.
- a family that rejoices because their child is healthy after major surgery.
Our family has many blessings, too. We have many friends and family all over the world to whom we send Christmas cards. My husband is healthy after a major surgery two years ago. We have three healthy sons. Both sets of our parents are alive and still married to each other. We added a brother-in-law to our family last year. We were able to move closer to one side of the family and able to buy a house beyond what we expected. My husband has a good job. We are part of a wonderful church family.
Yet, there are more blessings, still. Each day I thank and praise God that He safely brought me to another day to live out my baptismal life in Christ. We should not despair even when thinking of all the suffering of our family and friends. Whatever happens in our lives, we are God’s children and God will work it for our eternal good. God will provide and care for our every need. My address list will always have suffering on it because we live in a sinful world. Jesus has conquered sin, death, and the devil. We press on towards the goal of eternal life in heaven. Because of all the suffering on earth, we long for heaven even more.
“Be near me, Lord Jesus: I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
And take us to heaven to live with Thee there.”