Nice word. A lot of things come to mind when I hear the word suffering. Not all of them good, but amazingly, not all of them bad either, though it wasn't always that way.
God has been talking to me about suffering a lot recently. And in my realm of influence there seems to be a LOT of suffering going on. My niece found out two months ago that her unborn baby will die. My friend has pancreatitis that even after surgery they can't get under control. An internet friend went to the doctor for a severe headache and found that she has brain cancer. Two other internet friends went in for hip/joint pain, one found her breast cancer, presumed to be in remission, had metastasized to her bones and one found that undetected lung cancer had moved to her bones. My aunt took antibiotics for chronic UTIs and the drug caused severe scarring in her lungs that she may have to live with for the rest of her life. And these are just to name a few.
So, here's what God's been showing me. Isaiah 54:10 says, " "Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you. " The word compassion that I've emphasized here I've learned comes from the Hebrew word el rachem. El rachem means the kind of love that a mother has for a newborn baby.
This I understand, with my whole being I understand it. I'm a mom. I have five children. And the moment of birth is like no other in this life. If you're a mom, you know exactly what I'm talking about. The moment you first lay eyes on your baby and gather him into your arms this incredible, unexplainable feeling comes over you and every fiber of your being, every cell of you body is filled with a passionate, all encompassing, unconditional desire to hold, protect and LOVE your baby forever and never let go. It's physical, emotional and spiritual. These mere words can't even come close to describing it.
And that is how God loves us when He says that no matter what happens His love for us cannot be changed. When my world is shaken, when my stability is removed, when things completely fall apart in my life, God is holding me in the safety of His arms with a love that comes from the very origin of who He is, and He will never let me go.
I have peace. And rest. I can walk through anything the Lord asks me to walk through, not because I am particularly strong, I am not, but because I know without a doubt, without having to analyse or question that my God, the God of the universe, holds me close to His heart and never wants to let me go.