Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence? Psalm 139.7
Though suffering may not be something that is ‘given’ or ‘the will of God’ does not mean that suffering is wholly meaningless. We may find meaning, truth, faith, hope, life, even when suffering, meeting God in the darkest places in our lives. God may not plan for us to suffer, but God’s presence alongside us can make suffering a place and time in which we encounter the Divine, as comforter, healer, friend, companion, in a way in which we do not when all seems well.
In the 12 Step Program used by groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous the idea of ‘hitting rock bottom’ is a crucial stage in moving towards recovery. 12step.com talks of it as when ”…the pain of using becoming more than the pain of not using.” In these times an addict will see that there is no other way but up.
In our spiritual journey we can have those moments also. When the darkness is so deep that all other means of support seem to have slipped away and only the Divine remains. Barbara Brown Taylor, in ‘Learning To Walk In The Dark.” writes “There is a light that shines in the darkness, which is only visible there.”
We do not pray for suffering, in order that we might be tested, or grow, or be healed - but we pray that when suffering comes, the presence of God will be made real there.