The journey of pain and suffering is a lot like the journey Frodo was asked to take in the classic work written by J.R. Tolkien entitled The Lord of the Rings. In that series of books and award winning movies, Frodo was given the burden and responsibility of carrying the ring over treacherous terrain to Mordor where it was to be destroyed.
The success of Frodo’s journey was due in large part to being surrounded by a group of friends called the “fellowship of the ring”. These traveling companions were not asked to carry the ring (nor allowed!) but rather to support Frodo and help facilitate safe passage to Mordor so he could destroy the ring.
Near the end of his journey, Sam one of his closest companions, witnessed Frodo collapsing under the weight of the ring’s burden and proceeded to pick up Frodo in his arms saying, “Frodo, I may not be able to carry the ring but I can carry you!”
This journey of suffering I’ve been on these past several months has been a little like Frodo and the burden of the ring. The suffering and pain on the most basic level, is a burden I have had to carry in my body. It has pressed in upon me physically, emotionally, spiritually and psychologically. And others have not been able to take the suffering upon themselves and carry it for a while.
On another level however, I’ve been surrounded by a “fellowship” of people who have walked beside me, ahead of me and behind me on this journey. Numerous people, too many to mention, have helped me weather the storms and fight battles I was unable to fight alone.
There are moments when I think about my life before the accident and wonder what life would have been like without this “incident” but I don’t stay there long. I more often take comfort in the belief that God allowed this suffering to happen to me and not someone else for a greater reason and purpose.
Frodo questioned his suffering too but Gandalf put it in perspective:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
A day will come when I will look back on this journey and have a much fuller understanding and appreciation for all that is going on during this season of life. In the mean time, I take great comfort in the fellowship of friends who continue to travel with me on this journey.
The fellowship travels with me when they…
- Show up and sit for a while
- Send an email or a text
- Pick up the phone
- Say a prayer
- Share their pain
- Share their pleasure
- Allow me to help them
- Cry with me
- Laugh with me
- Do the chores I can`t do
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. I accept the suffering that has been given me to carry but live knowing I have a fellowship who will keep walking with me to the end of this journey.
When have you experienced a fellowship of support during a time of suffering or loss?
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