Misery loves company. This is my best explanation as to why I started rereading a series of historical fiction books dealing with the years leading up to WWII in prewar Europe just a few days after learning about Poppy. I was a psychology major for about one semester before I decided to switch to history, so know that my thoughts are home-grown psychological theory, but it seems to me that human nature longs to know that A) I am not alone in my understanding of what it feels like to go through this, and B) Others have been through worse and suffered more.
I have shared before how the first need has been met for me by God in such an unbelievable way through the girls He has placed in my life who have either just been or are currently going through the experience of having a Trisomy 18 baby. This is a gift I did not expect to receive upon first hearing the news. After all, the doctors were describing a disorder that I had never heard of and that had the likelihood of occurring in about 1 in ever 6,000 births! Yet despite the odds, I am surrounded by a group of amazing women who serve to build me up and encourage me every single day. Not for a second am I glad that any one of them has had to experience the pain that is inextricably attached to this journey, but I am so grateful that God has allowed those of us who are going through it to find each other and feel a connection in the shared fellowship of suffering.
I think the second “need” of my human nature is being met through these books by Bodie Thoene that portray the heartache, injustice, hatred, despair, and absolute insanity of the years from 1935-1939 more vividly than anything else I have ever read. The fact that it is real, that the atrocities actually happened, that people experienced grief beyond what seems possible to be endured—all of this keeps me up some nights as I try and comprehend just a glimpse of the sorrow that has been felt by others throughout history. There are times when my own heartache seems so insignificant in comparison with the total loss others have experienced. It is at these times that I think “God, I can trust you through this, but how could I possibly endure through something like that?” In my head I know the answer: God doesn’t give us the grace we need to face situations until we are actually there. I really do believe that. I believe that is exactly what happened for us in regard to Poppy. Yet, when I think of it on a magnified scale, my heart fails me and my mind ceases to comprehend.
Maybe this is why God gave us Job. This is a situation where a man experienced a total loss in every area of life from health, to finances, to family. I suppose Job could be God’s universal answer to my previously listed second need in human nature. I was reading through one of Papa’s sermons on Job recently, and he stated that God was bringing Job to the point where he could say “God is enough.” He allowed him to be stripped of absolutely everything so that he could get to the place that he could say this with integrity from the deepest part of his being. Job got to that point. He was as low as humanity can get, and yet he was able to say “God is enough.”
I guess no matter what difficulties God allows us to go through, this is the response He desires from us. I know there are many people who are reading this who have experienced far more suffering than I ever will, and then there are others who find themselves somewhat unscathed by suffering’s hand at this point in their life. Whatever the case, it is not about comparison. Only God knows why He allows some to go through this and others that. I think the point is this: whatever God allows, He gives us the strength to make it through. It is just our responsibility to acknowledge that no matter what, God is enough.