We’ve all done it. We acknowledge another’s suffering. It truly aches our hearts. Maybe we even write it down in our prayer journals. But eventually, we continue to live our lives undisturbed.
Worse, as our newsfeeds become saturated with bad news upon bad news, we grow numb to suffering. We sweep every tragedy, every sickness, every ounce of discomfort into the generalized category of suffering. Describing the world as fallen becomes just another platitude to shrug off, rather than a reality to mourn. How easy it is for each new occurrence of suffering to be relativized, lumped with every other occurrence, and then forgotten.
In one sense, it’s understandable. I cannot mourn for the twenty law enforcement officers whose lives were taken last month in the same way that their families mourn. I can’t know the stress and anguish of having a child with cancer. And neither should I pretend to. Still, may we never let the novelty of every instance of suffering wear off. Instead, let us bear the sufferings of others as much as we can.
I’m not just saying, “Hey, we should pray more!” We can talk about spiritual disciplines of fasting, reading/memorizing Scripture, prayer, and evangelism. But might we also talk about the spiritual disciplines of empathy, compassion, and loving our neighbors as ourselves? Might we engage in the discipline of bearing one another’s burdens, such that we train our minds to meditate on more than just Scripture? What if we were people who meditated on Scripture and the suffering of our neighbors? How might that discipline, in and of itself, shape our other disciplines, such as prayer?
The aim of this post is encourage at least one more moment of empathy as you read this. My hope is that we take this moment to not forget the suffering of others. My hope is that we not continue living undisturbed lives, while those around us struggle to continue living theirs.
How easy it is to take for granted that my wife, my parents, and my siblings are still alive and healthy, as if that were not a blessing in this fallen world. Instead, what if we deliberately disturbed the flow of our day in this moment, to think about the others in our lives whose lives can’t help but be disturbed? What if, when we got out of bed and prepared ourselves to face a new day, we remembered those who struggle to get out of bed because their suffering bleeds into today as it did into yesterday? What if we took a minute to consider how the novelty of their suffering remains ever so fresh for them?
In this way, we can engage in the discipline of bearing one another’s burdens. Has not Christ born our burdens? And does he not continue to do so as our high priest with his nail-pierced hands clasped together in intercession for us?
With that said, I’d like to share some updates:
Reformed Margins has not had a chance to share a prayer request for Amos Ross. Amos, the son of Will and Kelli, has brain cancer. Will is a Westminster Philly alumnus, and was a classmate to many of us at ReformedMargins. After undergoing two brain surgeries, Amos is still undergoing various treatments. Please keep Amos and the Ross family in your prayers. You can keep up with how they’re doing here and donate to help them with their medical expenses here.
I just saw Bryan and his wife Jen a couple weeks ago, and he looks perfectly healthy. In a lot of ways, it seems that things have been going as well as they could possibly go for someone with multiple myeloma. The last I heard, his blood showed no cancer, but it is expected to come back. He’s currently doing maintenance chemo.
You can keep up with his blog here and his wife’s here. I’m constantly encouraged by his faith throughout this experience. I also highly recommend the article he wrote for his church’s newsletter “Christ & Cancer: My Only Hope in Life and Death” (see page 10).
“2.5 weeks into treatment, 3.5 weeks left to go. Emily’s been doing great. So far, we’ve seen no ill effects from the medication she’s been receiving. Praise God.
The swelling around her right orbit seems about the same but there is a noticeable hard lump we’ve recently felt above her left knee. While it hasn’t impaired her ability to walk or move around, it is definitely a concern and something we will be keeping an eye on.
In other news, Emily has moved on from Justin Timberlake to Justin Bieber, she still wants to wear the same 2 dresses every day, and she’s still as spunky as ever.
Thank you for your continued prayers.” Keep updated here.