Another telephone call. Another tragic death. Another family in tears.
One of the things I have noticed about getting older is that your life becomes touched more often and more deeply by trials of life that you never imagined. Whether you experience these things directly or watch those close to you endure them, if you stay on the planet long enough, you will feel the sting of suffering.
I suppose there are any number of ways that such experiences might affect us. For me, the trials of life have given me an appreciation, I daresay even love, for those who face trials similar to my own or to those of people near the center of my life.
I love those who suffer from serious illness. So many good friends have faced the darkness of life-threatening illness. Some have lost their battles; others have survived, albeit with battle scars. I love them for their fears as well as their courage. I love them for the dark nights and haunted dreams that they face on their own.
I love those who care for those facing such illnesses. I love them for their frustrations and feelings of helplessness. I love them for enduring at the side of loved ones who are no longer themselves. I love them for the burdens they bear that are overshadowed and often forgotten in light of the trials of those in their care. I love them for their thankless hope.
I love those who endure addictions, who have lost their ability to choose. I love those who have lost their parents, spouses, or children to addiction and yet still hope beyond hope for things to change. I love them for their ability to see who someone once was and might be again.
I love those who come back from addictions, and spend the rest of their lives looking over their shoulder to see whether the beast is creeping up on them.
I love those who suffer the despair of depression. I love them for the inexplicable and inexpressible darkness through which they walk and their inability to see the light in front of them. I love them for fighting to keep it together.
I love those who gave up the fight. I love those that remain behind, bathed in grief, guilt, and confusion.
I love those who live in chronic physical pain. I love them for trying to find joy in the midst of constant reminders of misery.
I love those who have suffered from abuse at the hands of those in whom they should have been able to trust.
I love the parents who face the unacceptable task of burying their children.
I love those who have been betrayed by infidelity, and the children who deserve better than a broken home.
I love those who have lost their faith, and with it their hope.
I love the survivors of serious accidents and the unexpected upheaval and damage to their lives that they never bargained for.
I love those who suffer invisible burdens and therefore bear them alone.
Each passing day teaches me more of the reality that life is difficult. With each shocking telephone call, I am reminded that none of us is immune from the storms of mortality. But those battering winds have softened me, making me less judgmental and more compassionate. As I gradually learn to mourn with those that mourn, I gain a greater appreciation for the atonement of Christ, and His willingness to experience all of these things so that He might be a perfect Comforter for us. And I am thankful that through His sacrifice, there is hope that all of these wounds can be healed.