Eternity over Ecstasy: A Lesson from Suffering
It was 2005. Baby blue flag draped around my shoulders, I anxiously bit my nails, and counted down the seconds as my Tarheels from North Carolina secured the National Championship. Pandemonium in my tiny apartment ensued. I behaved like a madman. Pouncing up and down on my couch, I screamed in delight, and even bolted from my living room into the cool April night, running barefooted across the parking lot, flag flapping like a cape from my neck. This behavior may seem extreme to some, but to those who swear ardent allegiance to a sports team this is the typical behavior of fan-atics. I loved my team.
Twelve years have passed. I have married and am the father of two adorable kidos. It is well-known by this point that the youngest of my kids – little Evie – endured open-heart surgery this morning. While none of us necessarily run out seeking suffering, I am now – through this trial – more convinced than ever that we can embrace it. There are a multiplicity of reasons behind this declaration but I’ll share just one for now.
With Evie’s surgery approaching I sat down last Saturday to “enjoy” the most legendary rivalry in college hoops. The disgustingly repulsive Duke Blue Devils were set to square off against my beloved Heels from Chapel Hill. I donned my tshirt, and sat Evie on my lap so she could enjoy the first of many Carolina victories. As the game progressed I found myself cheering enthusiastically, and when the final horn sounded and the yanks from the other end of Tobacco Road were defeated, a smile crept across my face and I raised my free fist (not holding Evie) into the air. Granted, this was not the National Championship, and I am 12 years older, but there was no denying that my celebration compared to 2005 and countless other victories was severely lacking. Why? you may ask. The answer is simple: suffering sets our priorities straight.
This is one of many reasons why suffering can and should be embraced. We live in a world constantly seeking to distract our minds and captivate our hearts with less important things. These things are fun, but they are not final. In other words, so much of what we value and spend our time, money, and angst pursuing will not matter in the least a decade from now. What will matter is people – their lives, their souls. Therefore, we should invest our time and energy in that which will not fade.
I was always cognitive of this fact (like many of you are); suffering simply has driven me to commit to it. Therefore, as hard as it is to watch my little girl struggle, and as difficult as it may be for you to endure whatever it is you are enduring at present, let’s bless the Lord in pleasure and in pain. I’m thankful this night that this season of darkness has stirred my heart for eternity over ecstasy. I pray God uses your suffering to do the same for you.