My colleague, Rod Decker, has a personal post on his blog this past week. In this reflective column he speaks of two “inescapable realities.” One is the reality of God and our Savior Jesus Christ. The other is death. As one reads you realize that these are not simply academic realities but ones that Rod is living.
His post has prompted me to personal contemplation and to suggest a third “inescapable reality.” Like Rod it is where I am living. This “inescapable reality” belongs between his two: suffering. As of September 10, it has been three years in which I have been suffering with Trigeminal Neuralgia. As mentioned in earlier posts, it is the most painful condition known to medical science outside of cluster headaches. Having experienced the excruciating jolts of TN every hour of everyday for the past three years, my experience supports the medical findings.
While not everyone will experience my specific type of distress, suffering (like death) is still an inescapable reality for all men. Solomon mentions it as “days of darkness” (Eccl 11:8), Jesus says, “each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt 6:34); Peter reminds us of Jesus’ suffering and offers the admonition “to follow in his steps” (1 Pet 2:21-24); and Paul shares his physical suffering and the need for grace (2 Cor 12:5-10).
Whether one is living in midst of the second inescapable reality or facing the real possibility of experiencing the third—although all of us live here everyday since we do not know what any day would bring. But the truth is we do not necessarily acknowledge it or experience it in the same way one who has just received the terminal diagnosis does—the first inescapable reality is the only way to deal with suffering and death. Asaph declares in one Psalm: My flesh and my heart may fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (73:26). Whether the flesh fails in death, or the heart (emotions) fail in suffering, I am grateful that I can rest in the first inescapable reality while I and those I love have to struggle in the other two. And there is coming a day when the first inescapable reality will swallow up the other two—forever (Rev 21:4)!