“Have I suffered enough?”
I’ve been turning this over in my head a lot lately. I tend to do that pretty frequently, but it seems to happen most consistently this time of year.
Maybe it’s because I subconsciously recognize that decades ago, at this very time, I transitioned from surviving, to extended hospital care, and ultimately, the home of my adoptive parents. I can only imagine what this must have been like for me, a vulnerable newborn, to try and cope with.
Maybe it’s grief over my past miscarriage, that always rears it’s ugly head at it’s annual anniversary, that leads to this unrelenting thought.
Maybe it’s the dreams that have been hounding me once again nearly every night, in which children are helpless and in trouble, and I’m fighting to save them.
Maybe it’s the multitude of survivors I’ve been connecting with, whose stories I hear, that are full of both blessing and difficulty, which leave me humbled.
I will likely never know the root cause of this unrelenting question, and it’s very likely a combination of all these things, but what I do know is that I’m not alone in asking this question.
But my question may be slightly different in context than the one others pose.
I’m not questioning my suffering in terms of “Haven’t I suffered enough,” but in actuality, “Have I really suffered enough.”
I look back on my forty years of life, and can clearly map out the ways that I have suffered, from before I was even born, about the impact that this has had on me physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, but as I glance around at the landscape of my life, I recognize just how blessed I am.
And as I see the devastation that so many experience in their lives, including that resulting from abortion, I’m always left wondering if I’ve truly suffered enough.
What is enough? Is there ever really a point at which you suffer enough? Is there a magic combination of factors? A number of distinct difficulties and burdens that one bears that equates enough?
I think we all know the answer to that question, but I think sometimes we fall prey to acting as if maybe there’s a glass ceiling when it comes to suffering.
I have been transformed significantly in my life, to go from wanting to distance myself from my suffering, to acknowledging it, living in and through it, and no longer trying to run away from it. Suffering is a part of life. God does not cause suffering, but I can tell you He is fully present in the midst of it to bring about good and our own transformation, to bring us closer to Him.
I know more suffering will come in life. That’s a given. I will lose family and friends through death, there will be so many things happen in my time here on earth that I can’t control and that will impact not only me but those that I love.
Yet, I am blessed. We will be blessed. So maybe I will simply always wrestle with this question.
Because compared to the sufferings of Christ, none of mine or yours will ever compare.
I know that’s easier said than truly embraced, when we face what seems like insurmountable pain and difficulty, but our views of suffering are quite subjective.
And truly, I think one of the greatest entrapments in our world is to compare or contrast our sufferings to those of others. “Poor thing! They have it so bad off!” Or, “They have it all, they live such a charmed life!”
We may never know the depths to which someone else has suffered. We may never know the blessing and joy that others experience in the midst of their great suffering—although I often see it reflected in their lives.
What we do know is this: suffering is not optional in this life, and it spares no one.
So the next time you question whether someone else has experienced suffering like you have, remember that you are not alone. And instead of questioning if you “haven’t already suffered enough,” question whether it would “ever be enough.”
And in this month of November, where it gratefully becomes commonplace to reflect upon thankfulness, I will remain mindful of how thankful I am to be alive, and that although there will always be suffering, there will always be Christ.
Life is blessing. Christ’s sacrifice of His life, His suffering so that we may live, is unparalleled.