“People are always telling me that change is good. But all that means is that something you didn’t want to happen has happened.”

Kathleen Kelly

The neighbor was mowing his yard the other day, his green beautiful yard, and my weird imagination had a glimpse of what our cul-de-sac would look like if we all decided to stop mowing our yards. The grass would grow beyond its driveway, concrete curb, pinestraw limits. It would get weedy and messy. I imagined us walking through a front yard forest of grass to get to the mailbox, and I considered how we are always working to hold back nature from taking its true course.

Sometimes the natural way of things is too far from our ideal, and so we work and we labor to keep the natural at bay. Do you ever feel like the goal of your life is simply to prevent yourself from suffering? It’s cold in here – turn up the heat. My head aches – find the Advil. Hunger pains – let’s make lunch. The baby cries – rock him good.

It isn’t wrong to take an Advil or rock the baby. Of course not. And then, there are worse things – horrible, unthinkable, true suffering. I don’t want to argue the purpose for suffering or why God allows suffering, but I simply want to say this: learn to suffer well and you can change the world.

I don’t know how to suffer well. There is too much fear in this unknown world, too much I love at stake. I’m learning, in small and simple ways. But consider those you admire, those who live with passion and intention – do they have a story of suffering? It may not be an outward, public brokenness, but I would venture to say that the world changers are well acquainted with grief. A seed must fall deep into the ground, breaking in the darkness of the damp earth before it can spring up and burst forth with life, full and new. And so the suffering of this broken life does not in itself bring about change, rather it is how the suffering is handled in the hands of the broken. Would you dare to rejoice in the suffering? Is it even possible?

“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Romans 5:3-5