Who among those of us who claim to follow Jesus Christ hasn’t at one time or another felt a kinship with His suffering? While our suffering pales compared to what He went through, those with MS or any chronic, debilitating illness have good reason to complain to God in prayer much as Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemane when He foresaw His coming crucifixion:
Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me…
That cup of MS can be too much for a frail human to bear. Few of us have continued that prayer with the following declaration:
…nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.
That takes a level of courage and faith I fall short of more often than not. The thing that sticks in my craw is that “all things are possible for you” concept. If all things aren’t possible, He isn’t much of a God. If all things are possible, how to account for the nightmare we endure? That question has been a stumbling block through the ages for those who deny His existence. Truth be told, it’s been one just as much for those of us who accept Him.
Jesus had the advantage of knowing a few key facts about His suffering:
- He knew His Father loved Him and was in complete control of the situation,
- He knew why He was facing His trial, and
- He knew His suffering would bring about positive results – the reconciliation of humanity with God.
At the best of times, I can believe the first. I rarely know the other two. If, in those times of adversity, I am to be Christ-like, which is the calling of everyone who claims the name of Christ, I have to do so in blind faith. I usually know nothing about the reasons behind my suffering, no matter what form they take, physical, spiritual, emotional, or relational. I can only hope there’s a reason.
It’s times like those when I cling most tightly to my knowledge of God. (Jesus has me trumped there, too.) Is He a good God? Is He trustworthy? Is He powerful, merciful, and loving? If I don’t believe those things, what alternative do I have but despair? Hope is gone.
This is why it’s so important for me to know God as best I can. If He turns out to disappoint me, I’m no worse off than I was: hopeless in my misery.
If, on the other hand, my searching leads me to an understanding that God does indeed embody all those positive attributes the scriptures ascribe to Him, what hope and joy is mine! As the hymn writer says, I have strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.
This is why King David, when he was lost in the wilderness, cried out:
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
Knowing His Father brought him the hope he needed to go on. And who of us isn’t lost in the wilderness (in MS land or some other barren waste) and dying of thirst from time to time… or always?