Inconveniences & Suffering
Our world is going through some changes right now because of Covid19. This virus affects all of us in some way. Many have died. Many will still die. Many have lost income. Many can’t get the medications they need. Many can’t keep food on the table and necessities in the house because some of it is scarce.
There are all sorts of havoc this is wreaking on us, but I think we are not all suffering in a major way. Some of us that aren’t affected with family members or close friends dying or being sick are not really in that major suffering category. Sure, finances might be tight and all those things, but I can’t understand how so many feel like they are suffering when all they have to do is to discipline themselves to stay home and distance themselves from other people for a while. That doesn’t mount up there in the major suffering category in my mind. Even the state of the economy, people’s money issues, and even their uncertainty about the future pales in comparison to what some are actually suffering in the way of death and loss.
Do you see the difference in those definitions?
According to the Oxford Dictionary
Definition of Inconvenience trouble or difficulty caused to one’s personal requirements or comfort. Definition of Suffering the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship.
My friend and I were discussing this on the phone the other day. Just because you have to learn to discipline yourself, even if it means some inconveniences, is a far cry from suffering. When I think of suffering, I think of Stephen in the Bible getting stoned to death for preaching Christ. (Acts 7). I think of the Foxes Book of Martyrs and all those Christians that suffered for the sake of Christ. They were burned at the stake. They were tortured. They were stoned. They were thrown into jails to rot. I mentioned Corrie Ten Boom to my friend as well while we were talking.
Those people weren’t just inconvenienced because they couldn’t be with extended family and friends. They weren’t just inconvenienced because they couldn’t eat the type of meals and have the type of snacks they normally do. They weren’t just inconvenienced because of their financial worries. They weren’t just inconvenienced because they couldn’t hold or attend an event somewhere. They weren’t just inconvenienced because they couldn’t attend church services as they normally do. Those people suffered!
I am not making light of the fact that many people are suffering right now. That’s the point. Let’s have some feelings and love for these people and curb our behaviour and discipline ourselves. I think of families in the news that lost four family members to death because of the virus and they have three more family members that are infected. Hey! That is some suffering. I think of the health workers that are contracting the virus because they put their lives in harm’s way because they work with virus patients. I think of all these things revolving around the virus that mounts up to legitimate suffering. But friends, there is such a big difference between that and just the inconveniences that many of us are going through.
Sure, it’s scary. Sure, it isn’t easy. Sure, life is different right now and even uncertain, but can’t we forget about our own inconveniences right now? Many people are going out into the world unnecessarily instead of hunkering down. Even many Christians are doing this. Where is our real compassion for those truly affected? Where is our heart as Christians? Where is our love as Christians? Where is even a little human empathy? And where is that beautiful fruit of the Spirit in the way of patience?
If we truly loved other people and truly were concerned about the health and welfare of others, we would obey our stay at home orders and ordinances. We would self-quarantine and stay at home whether there was an actual state or county order in place. We would only go out for the true necessities of life, like food and medicine, or to work an essential job. I know some trips to the grocery store are necessary. And there are seniors, elderly family members, and those without food and essentials that we have to make trips to take care of as well. I understand that.
My friend and I got on the topic of discipline, because that is what curbing this virus is going to boil down to in the end. We have got to discipline ourselves to stay home, use precautions, wash our hands frequently, and all that.
If we start looking at ourselves as suffering when we aren’t suffering in all actuality, we can start looking inward really quickly. We can start only thinking about ourselves. We can start being selfish. Those pity parties will start being the main events in our lives. That whole mindset can make us start to forget about others and their welfare so easily.
I know right now there are people suffering some major pain. But some are suffering lightly. And some are merely inconvenienced. I just think we need to learn the difference.
Gentle and Lowly - Dane Ortlund
If God Is Good, Why Do We Suffer? - Henley Karyn Henley
Hope in the Face of Suffering - Jeremy Marshall
Suffering Is Never for Nothing - Elisabeth Elliot
This Too Shall Last: Finding Grace When Suffering Lingers - K. J. Ramsey, Kelly M. Kapic
Where Is God in All the Suffering? - Amy Orr Ewing