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Long . . . . Suffering!



What you are going through is hard and is your own unique experience. It is a given that life is hard. Jesus said “ In this world you will have trouble (hardship, pain, sickness, suffering)”. So what do we do when hard stuff comes along?


Many turn to drugs, alcohol, cleaning, work, sex, shopping, TV, or a gamut of other things to avoid or numb the painful, uncomfortable feelings. Our culture doesn’t seem to give anyone enough time to grieve when you lose someone you love. It’s “get on with it, back to work, move on!” Who's to say what is enough time anyway? Don’t minimize what you are going through. You are suffering and it's hard!


You really can’t compare your suffering with someone else’s suffering, whether it be physical, emotional , mental, or spiritual. There will always be someone else who has it worse than you. When my dear friend Gary was nearing the end of his life, he shared with me some thoughts he had as he courageously battled cancer. He said: “The tension is, believing ( for the miracle) without denial (present reality) acceptance (of the reality) without resignation (giving up hope).” That has stuck with me!


I don’t have a fix for how to deal with the hard and painful stuff of life, but I can share some of my story and things I’ve learned along the way.


Presently, I am still in the middle of my journey with grief and loss. Some days it feels like yesterday when I helped my mom to the bathroom in the wee hours of the morning. On the return to the bed, she experienced another heart attack, only this time she didn’t live through it. Then fourteen months later, I received the heart wrenching call that my Dad suddenly passed away. Our world was rocked to say the least. It would never be the same. Even though I am confident I will see both of them again, as this is a temporary separation, the deep pain and cavernous sense of loss affects me everyday (some days harder than others).


A few months after losing dad, I found myself on the beach greeting a new sunrise. It was pitch black as the sun had not yet made its glorious appearance. When the clouds and colors finally took shape, I placed my viewfinder up to my right eye and all I could see was total blackness. At first I thought something was wrong with my camera. Instinctively I moved the camera to the other eye. I could see the sun making its entrance and began clicking my shutter capturing the beauty. Little did I realize those would be the last images I would take with my beloved camera for many months.


I made an appointment with an eye specialist the next day and was told that I had a completely detached retina and would need emergency eye surgery to save my vision. My eye surgeon informed me that the other eye was in the process of detaching and he would need to operate on both eyes. I was in shock.


It has been over nine months with five surgeries on record and am still in the middle of a complicated, limiting, and confining healing journey. During these months, I have had many emotions and have experienced a vulnerability that has been both unnerving and anxiety producing. Since my depth perception has been affected, even taking a walk, I found I needed an infusion of bravery from the Spirit. Although there has been some improvement in my right eye, basically everything I see in the center of my vision is misshapen and distorted. It is like being inside a house of mirrors.


As a photographer/artist, my eyes are a vital part of who I am and how I live life. I love seeing beauty, light, shadows, textures, form, colors, and details, that often many around me miss. I see beyond the obvious and want to capture those moments with my camera. Photographing what I see is a huge part of my life and I have miss it!


I am waiting for a creative miracle. There is good news, currently I now have pretty good vision in my left eye after a few surgeries and months of healing. I have just begun driving again with extreme caution. Also I have implemented some adaptations with my camera and started taking baby steps doing what I love and am passionate about. This brings me great joy!


Honestly, I still butt up against daily reminders of my present limitations but I am learning to accept my visual disability and adjust, while at the same time I am waiting on God to fully restore my vision. It's a dance. My hope is the healing would happen sooner rather than later, while I am still in this fleshly body. I struggle with being patient, but even if it doesn’t come how I want or when I want it to, full restoration will come. My journey with grief and loss has felt lengthy and exhausting, and is far from over, but the truth is this is really just a blip in light of eternity.


Back to the question earlier, what happens when suffering comes along? What helps?

Below are a few things that I have found helpful on my journey. I am sure I have much more to learn.


  • Viewing this as a temporary moment (season) in light of eternity.

  • Knowing I am not alone. Jesus understands, He suffered too and suffers with me now.

  • His Presence is with me, even when I don’t feel it or see.

  • Receiving the gift of community. I need others to share in my suffering.

  • Reminding myself what I can do or what I do have and being grateful for both of those.

  • Accept what is happening without falling into the dark abyss of resignation.

  • Believing healing will come and the pain of grief will lessen, but not denying the reality of my present suffering.

  • The importance of feeding hope - the joyful expectation of good.


“And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God’s love.” Romans 5:5 - (Voice)


“And I heard a great voice, coming from the throne. A Voice: See, the home of God is with His people. He will live among them; They will be His people, And God Himself will be with them. The prophecies are fulfilled: He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; Mourning no more, crying no more, pain no more, For the first things have gone away. And the One who sat on the throne announced to His creation, The One: See, I am making all things new. (turning to me) Write what you hear and see , for these words are faithful and true.” Revelation 21:3-5 (Voice)


Victoria Sandage


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