Chapter 1: Being known
“Suffering is an invitation to live and tell the story truer and more satisfying than pain-free ease. It is an invitation to know and be known by the God who entered the human story intent on transforming death into life.” (pg 89, This Too Shall Last, KJ Ramsey)
Our story started with relationship. God created us for relationship and we were made for connection with Him. Even after the fall, God called out to Adam and Eve, seeking connection, repair and restoration. If the stories of the relationship between Adam and Eve and God are any indication, relationships are definitely not a straight line. Relationship is filled with love and pain, misunderstandings and lightbulb moments, growth and steps backward.
Society tells us we need to succeed, and stories of success don’t include bumps in the road. If we aren’t on a steady incline, if there is any sort of problem along the way, or if those problems don’t have immediate solutions, then we have to hide those things until they are resolved. It’s hard to not have the answers and so it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that our suffering is something to be ashamed of.
“The unspoken story of Western culture is that suffering is a problem we can avoid or annihilate if we work hard enough. When suffering lingers, we feel we have failed to reach the allegedly reachable American Dream. Held in the invisible grip of this story, lives including pain are problems to fix.” (pg 63, This Too Shall Last, KJ Ramsey)
The bad news? This life will have pain. We will hurt, and we will suffer, and sometimes we will have no idea why. The good news? Jesus wants to meet us in our pain. He wants it so much that he actually became human, and suffered alongside us. Our suffering holds an opportunity for our own transformation through relationship with Jesus, even if that doesn’t mean the end to our problems.
“We need a story bigger than success. We need incarnation. We need embodiment. We need exposure and sight and light that touches darkness in actual bodies, with real histories, in the places where we most want rescue, relief, and retribution.” (pg 90, This Too Shall Last, KJ Ramsey)
So, in this first chapter of this book, we have an opportunity to set aside our previous expectations of what life should be. Once we stop being ashamed for not having answers, for not having the solutions to our problems, for not having it “all together”, for not moving along a straight line–the moment that we actually sit in our pain, and our confusion and our disillusionment– is where the opportunity opens up for us to experience the love of Jesus. This is the beginning of the bigger picture: to be fully known and fully loved and fully embraced by a God who meets us in our suffering.
“This is a story where pain propels communion. It’s the most surprising, curious, and true story of all, where the Author–God himself–not only tells the story but enters it and changes everything, not by winning, but by suffering. In Jesus, this is what we have. Not the stories we thought we wanted but the one we most need.” (pg 90, This Too Shall Last, KJ Ramsey)
What if suffering isn’t ruining our selves but re-creating them?
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