I've been having a recent conversation with Mike and as it's developed I've been wondering if perhaps it's something I should share with you. This is not directed to any one person in particular but is something to be said/shared in general. You might find this applies to you in part... you might find that it doesn't- but I think it's beneficial for all to hear and hopefully will speak to you.

If you've been following the blog for a while or if you know us (in real life), you've seen lay-offs, sickness and hospital visits, multiple moves, complications in pregnancy - in short, kinda hard stuff. When its written online or on paper it seems like we could by now be used to the difficulty and "abnormality" of normal life. There certainly is a sense of relativity when it comes to crises or lifestyle adjustments (like feeding tubes). You do tend to get used to what you commonly live with.

However, the deep sense of Shalom life from before the Fall I think stays with all of us. This can manifest into an arrogant "I deserve my life to look like xyz" or a longing for the New Heavens and the New Earth that fulfills the promise of Eden - the promise that God will have his way with this world and with us; He will be our God and we will be His people obediently serving Him as co-heirs with Christ, no longer to suffer.

Sometimes it may seem as if we are very discontent with life and ungratefull for our lot. While, yes, this can be an expression of sinful discontentment (who would say that it never is?), it is just as often to us the sense of tension between the already (after the Fall life of suffering in different intensities and capacities) and the not yet (fulfilled life of New Creation glory with Christ). Sometimes we as weak humans are tempted to read the cause from the effect when the cause is much more complex than the effect.

Mike and I have noticed that there is a tendency for people to ignore our particular hardship and trials. Sometimes it's something people want to dismiss because they don't know what to say. They might want to look the other way because they don't want to think about such difficulties. They tire of shaking their heads in disbelief. Etc.

We want you to know that though our circumstances have been challenging at best it doesn't mean that they're any less difficult or real. We have NOT grown "use" to these particular sufferings. We may have grown adept at handling them. We might be calm in dealing with them. But this isn't something we just accept as the norm. I have found that at times when people share with me the sufferings of others... they might be the same hardships we're in or have been in (loss of job, children in hospital, death of a loved one, etc.) but it's as though we don't have the same circumstances and can't possibly relate. I feel tempted for people to put us in the "Well, you know it's the Napiers... or course this has happened to them." It can hurt very deeply to be ignored in this way or for there to be some kind of expectation for us to be in some particular hardship. It's as though when "bad" things" happen to us people expect it.

Suffering is a result of the fall...of sin entering this world... but I don't think we're ever supposed to grow normal to it. I don't think it's something to just see as "the way things are." It is in the sense that we can't revert to the pre-fall state. Suffering is something that changes us. It strips us of our pride and independence. It molds us more into the likeness of Christ. It's part of the life we live...but it's not what was intended. God doesn't take delight in our suffering. He is not some masochistic God who wants us to suffer. He has born our suffering. Jesus was a "man of Sorrows". He has experienced grief, sadness, betrayal, and deep suffering.

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