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Suffering in Silence

by in Dark Hope, Family and Faith, Give Justly

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Silence in the face of suffering is unnatural.

While I was getting Bronson some cereal in the kitchen, I sipped some coffee and sighed deeply enjoying the glorious silence that permeated our house. Until a split-second later when I remembered Bronson – my two year old. Silence from a toddler is almost always a warning signal.

I went into the living room to discover him pinching Oliver’s nose. Why? I have no idea, other than Bronson being an older brother. The pinching wasn’t surprising, but Oliver’s reaction was.

Silence.

I put Bronson in timeout, picked Oliver up, looked into his eyes, and told him he needs to cry when he’s in danger or getting hurt or suffering in any way. For some reason, eyes-for-the-back-of-my-head didn’t arrive with his birth. I need him to cry.

Silence in suffering does not serve him well.

In a book I’m reading in a chapter on justice, the author mentions the 3 million (or more) girls sold into the sex slave industry each year. She mentions that most of the 25 million coffee farmers are forced to sell their coffee far below the cost of production, ensuring they’ll never get out of poverty – all so you and I can keep sipping cheaply. Then she tells a story of a woman who lived in a barn with virtually nothing and no real plan for a brighter future. She already had some kids, but when she encountered a little girl eating crumbs on the side of the road because her parents abandoned her, she adopted her.

This morning, Ryan sent me a link to a video about a man running across Mongolia – all 1,500 miles – to raise awareness about the street orphans of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia – the coldest city in the world. I can’t imagine being a child abandoned, forced to face the elements alone.

Too often suffering is done in silence. More ears are needed, so more hands can get involved.

I’ve heard the statistics many times. At the very core of my being, I ache to do something, anything, to help people like these. But mostly I don’t.

I think many times I’m like Oliver. I let suffering be snuffed out by silence.

I do it with myself. When I’m sad, exhausted, hopeless, I clam up. I swallow the suffering, believing that crying won’t help, believing that suffering is best served by silence.

But suffering – all suffering – needs a voice.

Perhaps, this is the beginning. Oliver needs to cry when he’s suffering. I want to help him, to rescue him, to comfort him. I can’t unless I know. I can’t know unless I hear. I can’t hear if he’s silent.

I often choose to watch terrible, true movies – ones that portray the awful realities that exist in our world. I’m not a glutton for punishment. But my heart has a propensity towards hardness. I need to hear. Over and over. I need to hear the suffering. Because that’s where the changes start.

So much of the world suffers in silence. I need to do my part in giving them a voice.

And I need to give voice to my own, smaller, sufferings. We all do, recognizing that suffering’s strength is amplified by silence.

Just speaking into darkness makes it a little brighter.

So while I still don’t know what I can truly do for the millions of people experiencing suffering that I can’t even comprehend right this second. I know I can do this. I can speak. I can cry out.

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