Lately it seems that the suffering of people I care about has increased substantially. I'm not sure if my perception is correct or if it is just that--a perception. Our fallen world being what it is, I know that suffering is a given and will be until Jesus returns to take His children home. Perhaps, then, I am simply becoming more sensitive to the struggles of others, but I doubt it. I think I'm just as self-centered as ever.
So why does life seem harder these days? And why do my friends and loved ones seem more burdened than ever? More and more I think it's a function of age: as my husband and I get older, so do those with whom we are most involved, and all of us find ourselves facing increasing responsibilities and challenges ranging from rearing our children to managing our finances to dealing with our own health problems to caring for aged parents.
As I ponder the situations of family and friends who are struggling and who have asked for my prayers (as I have asked for theirs), it boggles my feeble little human mind to consider the the extent of suffering I see in just my immediate sphere of existence and to know that it is only a tiny percentage of the suffering that is going on in the rest of the world.
But what I find even more mind-boggling is the thought that the God of the universe knows each of His created souls intimately, as a dear Father knows His dear children, and that as we struggle and cry and grieve and doubt He experiences it all with us, just as parents share bitterly in the pain faced by their own children. And somehow, as the prayers of the faithful come unceasingly to the Father's ears, He manages to hear every single one, as if that one prayer were the only one being offered at that moment in time. I know this to be true, but I find it incomprehensible nonetheless.
"Oh, Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it." (Psalm 139: 1-6)