Community Series Q&A: How do we live out long-term suffering with others?

How do we live out long-term suffering with others in a society that has a hard time with long-term anything? There are many of us who aren’t going to get well. We get the I just know that Jesus is going to heal you, and Just pray and you will be fine, or Have you tried this latest thing—I’m sure it will help you. But what we need is just love and community to do life with?

Dear Church, dear people who love Jesus, dear friends, this is a message from the depths of my heart. It might sound harsh, but I mean it with so much love: Stop it. Stop. Trying. To. Fix. Each. Other.

I get to be passionate about this topic because this used to be me trying to fix everyone. I couldn’t listen to a person’s heart and story without my mind spinning about how to help them. But fixing is not my job. It is not your job.

Our job is to love. Listen. Support. And that might be it.

Sounds hard, doesn’t it? Especially if someone has an illness that will last a lifetime. That itch to scram starts creeping up in us, because this is not going to be easy. When I see a friend start to walk with someone who has a lifelong illness, my breath catches. Not an easy path, I think. I stand in awe of the people who choose people whose suffering does not have an end or a cure on this earth. They are truly the hands and feet of Christ.

Kara wasn’t healed on this earth. It wasn’t because Kara was a sinner. (Of course she was a sinner, but that wasn’t why her healing didn’t happen here.) It wasn’t because she didn’t have enough faith. Kara wasn’t healed on this earth because that is the story God wrote for her.

The person with a life-long illness did not do something wrong. Let me repeat that. The person with a life-long illness did not do something wrong. They were walking along one day, and their life changed drastically, and they probably said, Hey, this isn’t what I asked for. And there may not have been an answer to that cry or the subsequent cries that followed. Sometimes the reason for our suffering is met with silence from God. We don’t know why. We don’t understand. But the story of suffering remains and it’s not going anywhere.

Please do not say Jesus is going to heal you, I just know it.

Have you tried this?

Maybe if you had more faith.


Please do listen. Hear their heart. Take them a meal or a coffee. Send them a text that says, I know this is hard and I love you. Pick up their kids on the hard days. Choose them in their suffering. Without thinking they might be healed. Don’t accuse me of not believing in miracles. I know they happen. But can you imagine being the person who so desperately wants a miracle but it’s not handed to them? They do not need our reminder that God can do anything. They know, and they want it so badly it’s painful. But if that is not the story God is writing for them, and if that miracle doesn’t come, they are stuck in the day to day. How do I do this? Today? How do I honor God in this path that I don’t want? That I want to punch in the face? I am not grateful for this suffering! Do you hear me, God? I want the miracle.

And if it doesn’t come, they say, Not my will, but yours. They bow their heads and choose another day of gratefulness and joy even in the midst of their suffering.

I have much to learn from these gentle souls and bent wills. From the whispers of not my will, but yours. So Lord, let me learn and not judge. Let me see you. Help me to shut up and listen. Help me to love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

12 We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
— The Message: portions of 1 Corinthians 13