The Blue Time of Suffering

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Gorgeous shot of the mouth of Otter Creek in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore taken earlier this month by Kristina Lishawa Photography.

The photographer writes:

I have photographed this place many times; it is never the same. Seasons march on, light changes, the river bed courses through its varying paths in the sand. My heart, too, affects the picture that is created. Hopes, fears, dreams, regrets, prayers…all are poured out here tonight in this blue hour.

I am not a stranger to suffering, and have learned much about the blue hours of life. Like many people, I have suffered loss in many ways, loss of parents and parents-in-law, loss of my youngest brother, loss of beloved aunts and uncles, loss of employment, loss of a home through fire, loss of the nonprofit organization I built, loss of my physical health through all of 2014. More serious still is the loss of hopes and dreams, life regrets, the experience of fear.

During most of my times of loss, I suffered. At times, I felt as though I would lose myself in the suffering. Romans 5:3-5 speaks hope to me every time I read it.

. . . We also rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Suffering also touches our inner spirit with spiritual and emotional growth, the kind of growth that builds on our resiliency to face every tomorrow. Orson F. Whitney speaks to the growth that comes from suffering:

No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude, and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God…and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like God.

In the end there is always abiding hope in the midst of the blue time of suffering.

Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy will continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.  Lamentations 3:21-23 GNT

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