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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Is there a right way to respond to suffering?

I got the news last week. A man who has worked part-time for my family in South Africa for 13 years was desperately ill, without food, and alone in his squatter camp shack with no one to care for him. It made me weep.

John (not his real name) is the loving dad of two little girls who live elsewhere with their mum. They are dependent on the salary he earns from his full-time job (approximately £160 a month), but which at times hasn’t been sufficient even for food, necessitating additional support from my family.

Life is a struggle for John, despite everything he has done to improve himself and to try to find better employment. He has survived challenges that would have floored us middle class, first-world types at the first hurdle. He is honest, hard-working, kind-hearted and customarily optimistic. But now he feels as though he’s losing the fight.

Presently unable to work due to his devastating illness, he has gone home to a rural area to be looked after by his extended family. We are praying for God’s miraculous healing, provision and tender comfort.

John is just one of millions of South Africans struggling against these same challenges daily.

For most of us, especially those with mercy hearts, it is painful to look deep into the face of suffering. It is painful to confront circumstances that leave us feeling powerless. And extending help can make us feel like we’re offering a Band-Aid to a nation that’s had its legs cut off.

Have you felt this way? As Christians, how should we respond to such overwhelming suffering?