a series of unfortunate events

January 22, 2010

First, a dear friend and influencer of many finds out she has an aggressive cancer–tumors in several parts of her body.  She is younger than I am, with more vision and drive in her little finger than most of us could muster in a lifetime.  Some doctors who have treated her say there is nothing else they can do.  She has just enough strength to say a word at a time now, and struggles to keep food down.

Next, the earthquake in Haiti.

Then, a coworker finds out she has cancer, too.  It’s treatable, but it still has me concerned.

To top it all off, I watched “Marley and Me” for the first time last weekend.  (Stupid, Allison…just stupid!)

I think I’ve reached my capacity for human suffering.  Honestly, I might  have an easier time if the horrible news were for me, not for people who are close to my heart.  I hate watching others suffer.  I have gone through a cycle of anger, grief, acceptance, and anger again over the course of about five weeks.  Maybe less–the intense emotion makes the passage of time a blur.

I have been praying a lot, but most of my prayers have started out as accusations: “Really, God?  Her?  Now?  What in the world are You up to…?”  I haven’t heard too many answers to those questions, other than the deep-down reassurance that God is still the same God who was with me when life was happy and easy and everyone around me was healthy.

I’ll be honest: I don’t really have the capacity to truly care about the people of Haiti right now.  Sure, my heart goes out to them and I pray for quick rescues and delivery of aid, but if I really cared–if I truly let myself experience the full gravity of devastation among innocent, impoverished people–I think I would cease to function.  I’d call in sick at work, curl up in the fetal position, and survive on tears and cookie dough.  There have been times in my life when the reality of suffering in the world–the AIDS crisis in Africa, for example–has literally physically crippled me.  I become a tearful, messy puddle of a person.

I think the emotions I am walking through are natural and good.  Crying daily has been an appropriate release for them.  But my fear is that I will become bitter.  I fear that I will begin to believe that God cannot handle my accusations.  Right now, I know He can, but if another tragedy happens…

For now, I’ll soak in a hot bath and then watch “The Office.”  And maybe eat cookie dough.



  1. Oh Allison, Don’t be so hard on yourself, only those with great compassion will find their hearts breaking for those around them. We don’t understand – and won’t until we are with Him – but imagine how God’s heart breaks for all his beloved children who suffer. I’ll be praying for your friend, Ms.B, the people of Haiti and you. ❤

  2. God can handle your accusations. He knows you’ll reach the point of reality that He hasn’t caused one of these tragedies.
    Also, as you know, when you get up from your puddle, you will put that caring to action, as you have in the past. the puddle is not lasting, but the action that comes next in the true caring, is how He is glorified.
    But you know all this.
    So hang in there. He is at work In the world. and in you.
    love you, sister,

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