Meaning and Suffering – What I’m Learning Right Now

A few days ago, Thursday night, I was in Edmond, Oklahoma listening to Donald Miller speak. Don has written a few books like Blue Like Jazz, and A Million Miles In A Thousand Years. Don talked specifically about people’s quest for meaning, and how this connects with following Jesus. Don talked about Sigmund Freud and Viktor Frankl. Freud believed that the human quest was for pleasure, but Frankl believed that humans search for pleasure when they don’t have meaning in their life.

This is a big difference in paradigm. Pleasure and Meaning. Are we just pleasure seekers, or are we searching for meaning and view pleasure as a part of a much greater meaning?

On Friday, my Mom had an MRI. My Dad called me and told me he was at the ER with my Mom. He told me Mom had multiple brain tumors, and that it was very serious. I don’t know if you have ever gotten that call, but very quickly life becomes clear. I didn’t care anymore about how many people liked my most recent Instagram, or how many followers I have on Twitter. I realized there were some important things to me.





Helping Others

I forgot how sacred life is, that we as these clods of dirt with the Divine Breath flowing through us, we are fragile. My friend Brett told me, “We’re all terminal.” We’re only here for a little while, and while we’re here we can choose how we will do whatever it is we end up doing. I used to think I had a control on where I would be, and what I would be doing. We are not as in charge of our lives as we think. God is in control.

There are something that provide meaning in life. Donald Miller talked about these three things are necessary for there to be a profound sense of meaning in our lives.

  1. Having something to do that gets you out of bed in the morning. This is something you can throw your energy at, and something that makes the world a better place. This is key. If we feel our work contributes to the greater good, and not just our own greater good, then it will be quite meaningful to us. If the work you do is so important that it affects someone else’s life, and you’re providing something for them that they couldn’t have or do on their own, then that provides a great deal of meaning as well.
  2. We need unconditional loving relationships. To have unconditional loving relationships, we need two things. Good people in our lives, and also we need to open ourselves to being loved. This is so key. I am experiencing these relationships at a greater level now.
  3. We need our suffering to be redeemed for good. This is incredibly key. So many of my friends had some really bad things happen to them when they were little, or they experienced significant loss at other points of life. The redemption of suffering does not necessarily mean it makes the pain go away. It just means that there is good that comes out from the bad things that have happened.

At the end of Don’s talk, he pointed out how Jesus had these three things.

  1. Jesus had a big project. Saving the world of all our sin. I think this is the biggest life project of all time. And it got him out of bed, or up from his place of rest in a boat or the desert everyday. He had a mission, and humanity depended on it.
  2. Jesus had unconditional loving relationships with a small group of followers. There was a time when even they abandoned Him, but He had that relationship with His Father in Heaven as well.
  3. Jesus went through the greatest suffering in the history of humanity as He took into Himself every horrible thing that has ever happened. And He did all of this to forgive people. Is Jesus suffering redeemed for good? I would say 1000x times yes.

Right now, I’m learning this lesson from a perspective of watching my Mom go through brain surgery, and face whatever prognosis will come.

  1. Mom wakes up in the morning, and helps people. She writes people notes, calls people, encourages people, and is in communication with so many people I have been amazed. How do I know this? The stories people are telling us right now. And all the people Mom has asked us to contact during this, because they are people she cares about.
  2. Mom is experiencing unconditional love from her family, friends, church, and ultimately Jesus. I also think about how the nurses have shown love to her. I’ve met a few of them, and this job is not about a paycheck for them. (Aside: If you are a doctor or nurse, my heart loves you. I didn’t recognize before this how important, and how challenging your job is. You are helping people in the most important way everyday. The work you do is sacred. Thank you.)
  3. Mom believes her suffering is/and will be redeemed for good. This is why she said to us before surgery, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” She wants people to know Jesus the way she does, and for people to love Him. She has found a love from Jesus that goes beyond this world. So she has not run from the challenge of surgery, or recovery. Instead, she has faced this with courage. What is amazing is how many lives she is touching currently. People are telling us how amazed they are by her courage, and one family friend, Jeff, said that “Mom is mentoring him on how to handle a big trial when it comes along.”

Finally, I want to share something from my heart. Some of you who are reading this know Jesus, and what He means to your life. Some of you are reading this, and don’t believe. Some of you may think we are drinking the crazy kool-aid of religion. I can tell you a few things. Because of people’s prayers, I am experiencing so much peace right now. I go through crazy emotional moments, but I have been in a place of positive peace. I worship Jesus on my way to the hospital each day. I listen to the song 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman, and just give the day, my worries, concerns, and my Mom into the Lord’s hands. Knowing I can trust Him makes life better. The conversations I have with the Lord are helping me a ton.

For a while, I’ve taken the presence of the Lord in my life for granted. Frankly, I haven’t taken Jesus as seriously as I should have. I’ve been selfish, and made this life about myself. I’ve often viewed people as distractions, or frustrations. (That’s not to say I won’t get annoyed in the future with people. I’m human too.) What I’m learning right now is the sacredness of life. These moments with my Mom are sweet to me. These moments with the Lord are sweet to me.

If you ever have questions about what I mean when I say Jesus brings me peace, I’d love to share with you. If you have questions about how a person can trust an unseen God, I would love to share with you. I don’t have all the answers. I just know I’ve found a friend, Savior, and Lord in Jesus. I’d love to share Jesus with you.


3 thoughts on “Meaning and Suffering – What I’m Learning Right Now

  1. dear brother, greetings to you in the name of lord jesus Christ. I am u.vijaykumar.i am doing of our god’s work in india in state of andhra iam doing of god’s work was done very well. brother I am interest to do god’s work with,please come and see my work. i don’t have any support to improve our god’s,please keep my work and we are improve in india god’s don’t avoid this. i am believe with you. come and see my work then after your encouragement was give with my work. thanking you brother. in Christ, u.vijaykumar


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