I spend time sitting with families who are suffering, and the one question I always hear is "why?". "Why me?". "Why us?". "Why not them?". It is a reasonable question in the midst of pain. That depth of wondering if somehow we have earned grief, or been randomly chosen to endure tragedy. I have been there, sitting in the dark, asking, looking for answers in the silence, pouring words out in tears.
It is in the backward glance that that suffering takes on new meaning. Somehow, that seed of affliction that we can not bear comes to rest in our heart's soil. We can not see it, most times we don't recognize that it even existed until it bursts forth. Days, months, years into the future it takes root, and something grows. Empathy, joy, purpose, or perhaps, bitterness and anger. What have we allowed our heart to become in this adversity? Nurturing soil, or cold stone?
With that "looking back" on times of hardship, I've found that the question should not be "why?", but "what?". What will this suffering produce in me? What will it produce for others? What will I do with it? What gives honor to that which was lost, and purpose to the pain? When we focus on the "what" instead of the "why", we move our mindset away from creating more torment in our souls.
Grief is important, it gives time for our tears to soak our heart's garden, but it is not meant to be forever. A time is coming, after the rain.