Seeking To Solve The Suffering

When I first visited Haiti I was struck by how different this country was than the one I had made home in all 19 of my years at the time. The people were different, homes were different, food was different, even the smell was somehow different.

After getting to know this country and the beautiful people in it since 2014, many days I want to change every situation and rescue everyone out of their hardships. I think that’s human, right? We want to be fixers. We want to hear a problem and offer a way out.

Very quickly upon moving to Haiti I realized that this couldn’t be possible. I could help in many ways, but I couldn’t offer solutions to each and every of the  dozens of ‘asks’ I receive weekly, and oftentimes daily.

The Hard Reality

And the question I must continuously return to, “How will I grapple with the reality that I can’t help everyone?”. How could I live with myself, continuing to care for myself with my many resources when everyone else around me is suffering? Friends, hungry. Women, in unsafe living situations. Mothers, unable to care for their babies. Many, sick.

Although there is no solve that will permanently take away this groaning in my heart, I recently read something concerning this topic in a fabulous book by Elisabeth Elliot called, “Be Still My Soul.”

Fixing Expectations

She said, “Our society has become obsessed with comfort and fun and personal fulfillment. We are accustomed to fixing things or finding experts to solve every problem. We get impatient when traffic lights malfunction or we are sick for too long. We are not legendary heroes or heroines. We are not gluttons for punishments, we are only ordinary folks who get out of very comfortable beds in the morning, brush our teeth with running water, put on whatever we like to wear, and eat whatever we want for breakfast. Our lives generally don’t seem to call for much courage. We are so accustomed to luxury it ruins our day if the air conditioner quits or the waiter says they’re fresh out of cherry cheesecake. We expect to get things fixed – fast. When we can’t, we are at a loss.”

She goes on to say, “Our problems cannot always be fixed, but they can always be accepted as the very will of God for now, and that turns them into something beautiful.”

Not only can beauty be found in the daily inconveniences, but our suffering can be used as a pruning – making us more like our Jesus.

1 Peter 4:12-13 says, “My friends, do not be bewildered by the fiery ordeal that is upon you, as though it were something extraordinary. It gives you a share in Christ’s sufferings, and that is cause for joy.”

With the comforts and ease that have encompassed so much of my life, maybe I have been the one missing out on this type of joy. I am at the loss. My friends here in Haiti, maybe they are the lucky ones. Like Christ, they know what it is to suffer and to need Him immensely. Do I?

Are we using our own sufferings and problems to turn in joy, to be pruned and to become more like our Jesus?