Scripture Won’t Let You Endure Suffering on Your Own

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Fellow believers might abandon you or cover you in happy talk. But the Bible offers companionship with saints who know sorrow.

On many mornings I wake up early, my stiff body creaking as I pull on my yoga pants, grab my coffee, and hobble out the door to sit at the nearby lake and welcome the dawn. I come here to remember the God who set the sun in the sky and holds the world in its rotation, no matter how dark or shaky my disease or global suffering might make me feel.

I distinctly remember one morning, as the sun stretched its hot pink fingers over the horizon, when the words of Lamentations 3 reached out through my earbuds:

When life is heavy and hard to take,
go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions:
Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face.
The “worst” is never the worst.

Why? Because the Master won’t ever
walk out and fail to return (v. 28–31, The Message).

The violence of suffering is often its silence, the way it stops us from sharing and telling our stories as beloved children of the living God. There are places suffering takes us where others cannot or will not go, and underneath its long, lonely shadow, it can look and feel like God has left us too. But “the Master won ’t ever walk out and fail to return.” Besides being an author, I’m a therapist, and in these words I hear secure attachment, rooted in God’s promise to always come back and find his people.

Just a few pages into Companions in Suffering: Comfort for Times of Loss and Loneliness, author and theologian Wendy Alsup names the reality of “attachment disorder in the body of Christ.” Alsup aptly describes how sometimes we are like children who have experienced severe neglect or harm: When our needs are not acknowledged, we eventually stop crying …

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