Still waters really do run deeper – shallow pools ripple at the slightest whisper of movement. As a young woman, my prayer was that I would be as a still pool where people could find peace, comfort and refreshment. I mentioned this to a friend who was a psychologist. He rolled his eyes and said, “Be careful what you pray for!” He was a few years older than me and knew that a prayer like that would lead through deeply painful times that would eventually bring depth.
But I wasn’t interested in shallowness and thought it would be worth the price. With the arrogance of youth, I figured I could weather any storm and come out the other end wise and wonderful.
Ah, the overconfidence of youth! Even so, God is very aware of my limits. Françios de Fenelon (17th century French Archbishop) observed, “God never makes you suffer unnecessarily. He intends for your suffering to heal and purify you. The hand of God hurts you a little as it can.”
I have to say that when suffering comes my way, I enter into it kicking and screaming. In my fantasy life, I handle everything with grace and faith. In reality – not so much. Again, Fenelon knew what people were like and said, “Usually you bargain with God to set a limit on your suffering. The same inward waywardness that makes the work of the cross necessary in your life is what will try to push the cross away. God has to start over with you every time you push Him away.” Somewhere along the line, I realized I kept getting the same lessons over and over. Instead of pushing the cross away and having to start back at the beginning, I’m trying to cooperate with the Lord more. I do not want to waste my suffering.
I’m still a work in process. But progress has been made.
Donna Kemper put aside her art career to care for a mother she hadn't seen in over a decade. For seven years she followed her mother's journey into dementia, caring for her and putting forgiveness into action.