“Quietly endure, silently suffer and patiently wait.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968)
Many, many of us still don’t know how to struggle well – to suffer well – to be broken by God enough to buckle at the knees, because of the wearying of our circumstances. Sure, the circumstance may attend, but we resist what we could otherwise learn – to quietly endure it; to suffer in relative silence; to wait patiently.
Yet, these three – to quietly endure it; to suffer in relative silence; to wait patiently – are overrated so far as our ability to do them without utterance.
But that is the beauty in God folding us at our knees. Battered from within and broken – not physically, but spiritually – we take to God what is our humblest of offerings. Taken to the dearth of human experience, we find what was always missing; we never quite knew God until we came to be vanquished for this sudden experience of loss, adjustment, or pain.
There are quite many unregenerate Christians. It’s not all their fault. They haven’t suffered, and suffered so much that they got used to meeting the tests of life with monotonous regularity. This is no proud view, for it is biblical. It’s a pity there have been so many learned persons in the faith – modern Pharisees – who know Bible and theology back to front – who’ve jumped through all the hoops (but the life-transforming ones) – who don’t know how to suffer well.
This is not about suffering perfectly – for nobody can do that. All we can do is practice patience and a relative quietude and silence in the midst of the test. We will slip. We will fail. Imperfect is the passage through the struggle. But we respond as God would have us respond.
Endurance and waiting are our opportunities – to practice death to our desires such that we come close to a life that no one on earth can reconcile. If this set of calamities cannot kill us, nothing can. This is what I’m sure Jesus meant when he said that to gain our lives we would need to, first, lose them.
Nobody truly gets it, but it’s true: suffering – suffering well – is the gateway to the abundant life. Such a life is a treasure trove of gems of character and precious metals of virtue. Transformed into a life that gives and cannot but, this life that has suffered has seen truth in all its resolute glory – the glory of God.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.