I lost a friend to suicide this year. The news of his passing came as a huge shock for me. This was a charismatic man who, outwardly at least, loved life, loved his kids, and seemingly had most things going his way. For many nights I tossed and turned in bed, deeply troubled by the issues that could have driven him to this tragic end, the pain and despair he must have felt in his last moments, and the anguish and devastation this his children must have felt when they heard the news.
I received news that another friend was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. The news of his illness was a shock to everyone close to him – except for a persistent cough, he was seemingly healthy. I can only imagine the anxiety and confusion that must be afflicting the family during this period.
There is so much unseen pain, sickness, and suffering all around us. Perhaps more than ever, we see the world more acutely as it is – cursed, afflicted, and condemned by sin. One of the problems with pain and suffering is that it is always personal to the person experiencing it.
We might say that we understand what another is going through; we try to empathise. But can we truly understand the pain that another is going through without being in the same position as him or her? For this reason, I am often at a loss as to what to say when I hear of a friend going through a period of grief and suffering.
Yet, as Christians, we know that there is one who truly understands and one who cares. Jesus knows and fully understands the deepest personal grief and fears that each of us face, because He carried the weight of this sinful world upon Himself:
“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” Isaiah 53:4
Not only does our Lord understand, but the Bible also tells us that He wants us to hand over to Him all our cares, troubles and fears. Scripture is very clear on this:
“[cast] all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
“Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
In a world blighted by sin, chaos, and dysfunctionality, we have a Saviour who has overcome the world, gently reaching out His hand and saying, “Come to me… and I will give you rest”. What a wonderful assurance we have as Christians, that we can daily lay at the cross all our griefs, pain and ailments, and hand all of it to the only one who triumphed at the cross and overcame the world.
Perhaps more than ever, I view the cross and all it stands for as an ever-dependable crutch that I can lean on, and one that I can cling to in a world that is fundamentally lame.
by brother Shem Khoo