I love Once. It’s a great movie that is made even greater by the memory of watching it with friends, sitting on couches outside at a college Film & Theology night. The main song from it, Falling Slowly, is a little bit addictive. I was going for a walk this week to get some alone time and sort through some thoughts, listening to that song.
As I listened, I heard a lyric I’d never paid much attention to, but it struck a chord in me that I immediately had to silence because it just… isn’t true. “You have suffered enough, and warred with yourself, it’s time that you won.” Something in me said, ‘yeah! You have suffered enough!’
Isn’t that arrogant of me? Isn’t it crazy to think that I deserve to win something? Suffering is something that the church has always had to deal with – because well, all of God’s people have dealt with it. Suffering is a big deal, though. It can make or break someone’s faith. You can’t reason away suffering or shake off the sinking feeling it gives you in your gut as you think about all that’s happened. Yet we’re promised suffering so many times in the Bible.
There are two promises that stick out most to me in this life – you will suffer for following Jesus, and that you will never be left alone in the suffering; God will be with you. The suffering, too, often happens as a result of living a godly life. Persecution follows when you stand up for Christ. That means that sometimes, suffering is a good sign. Weird, huh?
Anyway, back to the point, however much fun the side track was. If you want someone much smarter than me to explain suffering to you, read D.A Carson’s ‘How Long, O Lord?’ it’s a great book and will give you more answers than I can hope to.
We think we’ve had our share of suffering. We think that God should wipe away all our insecurities because we’re had them for too long. We assume that for one year there won’t be anything bad because they year before sucked. Or at least, I fall into it sometimes.
This world is fallen, though, and so am I. I’m a broken person who worships the perfect God and waits very, very impatiently for the day to come with doubt and fear and insecurity are no more. Don’t take this as permission to inflict it, but I have not suffered enough because suffering has so many purposes and none of them are so that God can push away a follower he never wanted in the first place. He wants us to persevere until the end, and he teaches us through the suffering.
You are a broken person, too. You can cry out that you have suffered enough, and warred with yourself, and that it’s time that you won. But there is only one victory that matters and that is Christ’s victory when he died and rose again, conquering death and giving life to all those who call on his name. There is victory! Yes, even in the suffering.
I still love Once. But next time I’m in a bad mood, I won’t listen to that song. It isn’t right. When I suffer, and when I’m at war with myself, I need to remember that Christ has won the victory and that he is with me.