Embracing Suffering


Story 1 – Getting Dirty in Suffering

We had been in the Philippines for about a year, still stumbling through transition and language school when the lure of McDonald’s french fries drove us to venture outside our neighborhood. On our walk to the restaurant, we encountered a gaggle of street kids collecting trash for recycling and decided to bring them along. 

Over the next few months, this grew into a kid’s program in the playroom of the McDonald’s, where we bought a lot of chicken, were really loud and disruptive and left little black footprints all over the floor. 

One day, a set of twin sisters told us that their house was flooded, and we saw this as a chance to help and maybe access the community. I walked down the rough road off the highway, slipped down the mountain into the jungle and arrived at the flooded house six or seven meters above the rising river that rages in the storms of rainy season. 

Their older brother Kuya Reggie* and I worked for two weeks digging big rocks out of the river and adding to a flood wall. This gave me plenty of opportunity to try out my Tagalog. One day, Kuya Reggie’s neighbor asked him, “Why is that foreigner so dirty at your house?” implying that he or I should be ashamed. I said to Kuya Reggie, “You were hurt and needed help.” He replied simply, “Maybe more pastors should be dirty.” 

When people are suffering, it is okay to enter into the suffering with them and be willing to bear burdens, even if you get a little dirty. God used the natural evil of a flood that day to open the community to the Gospel, where we now have a church with many baptized believers. 

*All names throughout this series have been changed for privacy purposes.

Reflection Questions

What are the purposes of suffering in the life of a Christian?

How would you feel if suffering were just random and out of God’s control?

Who do you know that is suffering now and could benefit from you acknowledging their pain and standing with them?