I was so relieved to come home from college to spend Christmas with family and friends. This past semester was really rough for me, but when I came home I found that many of my friends had similar experiences.
It wasn’t that I thought I was the only one who could have had a rough semester. I just figured that some things had happened which would’ve made my semester harder than some of my friends’. My boyfriend and I had split up on our sixth month anniversary; due to living arrangements I was separated from a lot of my old friends; I was juggling two jobs; I was dorm leadership in my dorm; AND I was taking a 17-credit course load. But when I came home, I found that the sense of suffering I’d been carrying around in my chest wasn’t exclusive to me. Almost all of my friends had suffered terrible heartaches and pain this past semester – through fights with friends, strain between significant others, and just struggling to figure out the best way to navigate the sheer strangeness of life. One of my dearest friends even spent Christmas in a psychiatric ward. I can’t even imagine how this friend’s family must’ve felt spending Christmas alone.
Hebrews 5:8 talks about what we can learn through suffering, and how even Jesus suffered. Well, of course Jesus suffered on the cross; but I feel as if we often forget all of the “little” sufferings Jesus underwent throughout his life. It’s also not just “sinners” and non-Christians who suffer. Even someone as pure as Jesus suffered throughout his life. I find that this is one of the most authentic, consoling aspects of Christianity – it does not shy away from the fact that suffering is real. Jesus teaches us how to live a good life, but he does not teach us the magic techniques to escape from pain; just because we suffer doesn’t mean that we’re doing anything wrong. Suffering will plague us throughout our lives, but we can take comfort in the fact that God has a purpose and a place for it, and through Him there is always a way to learn from pain.