Suffering

This morning, I went to the doctor’s office/hospital thing to receive my monthly treatment. I get treated at an oncology treatment facility so usually there are a lot of cancer patients there with me while I’m receiving my MS medication. Today was no different. Fortunately, there was a smaller crowd so the visit went by much faster than usual.

While I was there, I sat two seats away from an older woman. She had come in with a similarly aged man, who I later figured was her brother. He was pushing her in a wheelchair to the seat she chose. They looked to be in their mid-60s.

Anyway, while the woman was receiving her treatment, she suddenly began to cry. I have to admit, this was a pretty awkward moment for me since at first I didn’t know if she was crying and when I realized she was I didn’t know how to react. I didn’t want to stare at her and embarrass her, but I also didn’t want to never look at her and seem cold. Unfortunately, I could find no happy medium between the two options and decided to look away from her but I could still overhear her conversation.

She had recently gone to the doctor, from what I could tell, and she had learned that her cancer came back. Her nurse told her that it was OK to cry; she should get her feelings out. Her brother told her to keep her head up and try to think positive. Both were so right about how she could react. And her reaction meant so much to me.

This happens a lot, at least to me. I don’t want to minimize her situation at all by comparing it to school or work or relationships but I do think that even in those things we feel (rightfully) overwhelmed and so we cry out. I think that’s what her tears were. I’ve cried those same tears a few times before and it’s not a cry of sadness or of resignation. It’s a cry of desperation. It’s when you can actually feel how painful it is to carry so many heavy burdens and you’re crying out for help. And sometimes, after all the tears are shed, there’s a beautiful release and you feel like you can go at least a few more steps. Sometimes there’s not though. Sometimes there’s nothing.

Though there is life after death, it doesn’t make our lives here on earth less real. We experience real pain. We go through real loss. We suffer. And for some people, even the knowledge of life after death isn’t enough to soothe the pain. I think that’s what truly broke my heart about her tears. Even though I don’t know her story, or whether or not she believes in God, I know there are people who experience what she goes through and don’t know God or just can’t seem to rest in Him. That hurt me. But it also hurt me to know that I, knowing Christ’s love and seeing His example, couldn’t find any way to offer myself to this hurting woman. It may not have been my place, but even if it had been, it wasn’t my desire. That’s a painful reality to combat.

We’re all so broken. We desperately need a Savior.

Sanguine Christi,

DJP

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