Suffering Well

by Peter Swann

Suffering.  None of us want it.  In fact, we avoid it at all costs.  Headaches get medicine, hunger gets food, and fatigue gets sleep.  Whatever the symptom, we have a remedy.  Few times are we unable to repair our issue.  We have an aversion to suffering, and for the most part, an ability to meet it.

The South Sudanese have no such mindset.  For them it’s not if they’ll suffer, it’s how much.  Suffering is guaranteed.  There is no medicine for headaches, not enough food for hunger, and sleep – that’s tough on hard ground.  Some South Sudanese have more these days, with medicine or food or a bed.  But they are the blessed ones.  What we take for granted here is a cherished blessing there.

This incongruency is one of the hardest parts of my job.  I grew up in Africa.  I know their suffering well.  But half my life has been in America.  I know what it means to have much.  Constantly I battle the two halves.  Constantly I try to reconcile the two.

Yet it doesn’t stop there.  The ones who suffer the most simply want for survival.  It’s all about living. The South Sudanese don’t know a surplus.  They just want life.  For us, we may simply want to want.  There is never enough.  Hollywood has discipled us well, and it shows. 

Yet there is hope.  There is truth.  There is freedom.  And there is transformation.  It’s seen in Scripture, where Jesus models suffering.  He wants not and He suffers well.  He gives up comfort and possessions.  His yearning is for souls.  His passion is the Father’s passion.  And all around Him are changed.

I’m thankful today to be in a community pursuing that. We don’t want suffering and we don’t pursue it.  But it’s all worth it for the sake of our King.  It’s all worth it for the sake of His glory.  And it’s all worth it for the sake of those He loves.