>What do you do with this?

>You know, we’ve been blessed with the supreme joy this past month: the addition to our family of this amazing little boy from a world away. And having just been blessed so greatly, received the greatest of gifts, how can I not also write about this? I can’t, so bear with me. Because even so, all around us, and even in our home as well, there are hard things. So many of my friends and family and people I know and love are living through the hard things. The hard things that make you cry “why does it have to be so hard?”
I don’t even need to really list them, you know. Open a paper. Turn on the news. Check the net. Sit down and look at the pictures we brought home from Ethiopia. It’s all there. Open any psych textbook and go down the list of top ten stressors: divorce, lost jobs, death in the family, moves, troubled families, major illness. It’s all there. Those are the “small” things so many in my life are dealing with. Then of course there are the huge, overwhelming ones.
Ones that are so big it’s hard to wrap your mind around them:
famine, Ethiopians in a huge crisis of famine – again,
orphans – millions of them,
devastating poverty – unthinkable levels to the middle American comfort laden mind,
sheer brutal physical devastation by nature unleashed – hurricanes, earthquakes, floods.
The loss of the Chapman’s little daughter.
It’s all there. It’s all around all of us.
And as many have pointed out. It’s too much. It’s overload. It makes you want to cry out, to someone, anyone, everyone, “why does it have to be so hard?” And the answer goes wanting. I don’t think any of us has an answer. And it makes that hole in your heart a little more ragged. And a little more torn. And you feel bereft of being able to do, well, anything at all, really.
And yet, sometimes, you run across something that at least helps you understand…no not understand, but helps you approach the unapproachable. So, for that, I really recommend going here and then reading this one too if you have a more serious academic bent. {That one is a wonderful writing on the problem of suffering, by Pope John Paul II, definitely worth a read if you have any passing thoughts on the seemingly senseless suffering to be found in this hard world.}
And while this doesn’t answer the “why does it have to be so hard,” it can help make sense of how to begin to approach it and maybe give us at least one thing to do and the why of doing that: pray.
“In our suffering, and in our witness of the suffering of others, we certainly experience our own weaknesses. We know, in a very finite way, our need of God. In these moments we look and strain for the hand of God. The counsel of the saints through the ages is that when we search for God in the midst of suffering we will find Him. For He is not outside suffering, but within it.” (Findley)
So too, “it has been seen that in suffering there is concealed a particular power that draws a person interiorly close to Christ, a special grace.” {Salvifici Dolores}That too, is a prayer – embodied in us.
Part of that overwhelmed feeling of “what do I do with this? How can I possibly make a difference?” is that I think we (ok, I) tend to look at this in our American “can-do” mentality. If there is a problem, let’s fix it, let’s make it better, right now. And while this is a great urge, it runs smack up against this impossible wall and then we stop, rubbing our bonked noses in dismay and we cry, like children “What do I do with this? Why? How?” And then, too often, we walk away.

But I think for me the point to remember is that we can’t walk away. Our hearts are not of stone, they are of flesh (Ezekial 36:26, and one of my fav blogger’s Lori points this out).

We can do something, something really powerful, as pointed out in Pope JPII’s writings on this, we can suffer with them in prayer. We can be mindful of these hurts and we can offer ourselves through prayer for them.

Prayer transforms. Us. Even the world.

We change ourselves and our stony hearts first. And then drop by drop, we change the world. Yes, penny by penny if that’s all we’ve got, prayer by prayer, stretch by stretch. We do what we can physically. And more: We change our cocoons of conceptions: of self, of the world and if we desire and strive – to convert our hearts into the suffering love of Christ himself {which means embracing the cross (the big ones, the irritating small ones, the hard scary ones)} then and only then do we begin to change the world.
{I could be accused of a Pollyanna approach on this maybe, but I don’t think it is – it is scriptural. More: it is truth. Not even my truth or opinion. Just plain truth.}So, what do you do with this? You hurt. You suffer for them and so you pray, a living embodied cry of a prayer. And the world changes a little bit. Slowly. But it’s a start and it’s so much better than the cold hard heart of a world of stone.