Friday, October 15, 2021

The Gift of Suffering

As y'all know, my final peak race of the year is the Richmond Marathon on Nov. 13. That's only a month away. It will be a big race for me. It will come only a few days after I commemorate Becky's death 8 years ago. If you're thinking, Is Dave going to go off on that tangent again?, I can assure you, I am. This has never been a blog merely about Greek or farming or running. I can read that stuff on any number of sites. What I love about blogs is the personal insight you get into a person's daily life beyond the trappings of the external. For those of you who have stuck with me through the years, consider this a virtual hug. 

Losing Becky still has an impact on me. I can see how it's made me stronger, braver, and more compassionate. But there will always be a hole in my heart. Grief, like running a 31-mile ultra, is exhausting. How to get through it? Yes, you get behind yourself and push. But ultimately you rely on Someone Else's strength. Then, when life hands you unchosen suffering, you know what you're capable of. 

Psychologists call this "post-traumatic growth." You find meaning through suffering, as did Paul and Peter and James. You didn't want the hand you were dealt, but there were also gifts. The gift of knowing the strength of the Lord. The gift of realizing how short life is. The gift of letting go. And most important of all, the gift of love. I have worked hard to face my pain and, in the process, have learned so much about myself. In the moment of supreme brokenness you see life's purpose with crystal-clear clarity. We are here to spread hope, a hope that is found only in Jesus Christ. When I wasn't expecting it, he held out his arms. Come, he said. And I did.

The best analogy for what I'm trying to say is running.To be a runner you have to be brave. You have to push your limits. You have to keep going when your body is crying out "Stop!" Running takes me to a place that is untouched by strife and politics and denominational squabbles. It takes me to a place where I feel the peace of Christ.

The result is that I am now, more than ever, convinced that nothing can separate me from the love of my God. Not death. Not pain. Not loss. Not heartache. My life is held in the hands of the One who threw the stars into space. I've got to believe he's never going to let me go.