Years ago I read the following from Joni Erickson Tada’s book, “A Step Further.”
It’s a kind of scale, I finally reasoned. Every person alive fits somewhere onto a scale of suffering that ranges from little to much.
And it’s true. Wherever we happen to be on that scale-that is, however much suffering we have to endure-there are always those below us who suffer less, and those above who suffer more. The problem is we usually like to compare ourselves only with those who suffer less. That way we can pity ourselves and pretend we’re at the top of the scale. But when we face reality and stand beside those who suffer more, our purple-heart medals don’t shine so brightly.
Along these same lines I’ve been thinking about what we call the sovereignty of God. In the face of suffering people talk about the sovereignty of God quite a bit. “It must have been God’s will,” we say. As I worked through the miscarriages, the loss of friendships and the death of a mother-in-law I wondered, I trusted and I prayed. “Was this YOUR will, Father?” I also muse that in the face of suffering we do not talk much of the goodness of God. It is as though God’s sovereign-ness deals a hard blow to life. God’s goodness brings only joy and good feelings. What if both of these simplistic ideas area not true and a reflection of how we deal with ourselves and others as we move along the “scale of suffering” that Joni talks about?