May 1 of this year, Katherine and Jason launched the Young Suffering Club (read about it here). This club isn’t about wanting to be in it, it’s about finding yourself in it when you least expect it and what you’re going to do about it. Jason describes it as this “Retelling the story so that we can see our pain as a badge of honor rather than an ugly secret to hide, deny or avoid. Young suffering doesn’t have to be the greatest tragedy but surprisingly one of the greatest gifts. The perspective gained from living, really living, this universal story of redemption informs how we live the rest of our lives.”
In 2008, Katherine and Jason found themselves in this club when Katherine had a massive brain steam stroke at 26 years old. (read their store here) I remember it happening and I remember almost every event since but I was so far removed from it that it didn’t strike me every day. I heard them speak every time they were in town but two years ago changed my life forever. Two summers ago was the beginning of, what I didn’t know at the time, my journey to First Baptist. I took one of my girls to hear them speak at First Baptist youth group one summer night. I heard them again this past summer when Philann was speaking in Sunday school. At the time, I had no clue how my life would end up right where I was sitting. But back to the club. Here’s the reason why I proudly claim this badge of honor and support it 100% “We didn’t join willingly, and if we could have revoked our membership, we would have. Yet this club of which no one wants to be a part has many members, maybe even you.”
10 years ago, I actually became apart of this club a few years before Katherine and Jason, when my dad at 45 lost his 6 month battle to cancer. I was 11 eleven years old. Just like Jason and Katherine it was not a club I joined willingly and I would have given back my membership in a heart beat. This club has so many members, it’ll truly shock you. To the world, tragedy to a young person really breaks everyone’s heart. We can’t avoid suffering, pain, loss or hurt- but as Christians, we can know there is a hope in the suffering. There is joy that is coming in the morning. We can know that we can live for Christ through our suffering. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this Grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the Glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5
This is not just a secular response. It seems even the “people of hope” often forget the true story of hope, one that is most profoundly birthed through the story of suffering. We need look no further than the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ to see this paradox of hope-through-suffering made manifest.
Hope Heals’ “Young Suffering Club” seeks to re-narrate the story of suffering by sharing the lives and lessons of real people–their honest answers, vulnerable struggles, and surprising transformations through enduring life’s greatest storms. As we share the scars and even the yet-to-be-healed wounds that come with such territory, the question remains…could we bravely wear our suffering as a badge of honor? Could what appears to be the greatest loss possibly offer the greatest gain?
In the telling of these true stories of suffering may we remember, and in the remembering may we find gratitude, and in the gratitude may we find hope, and in the hope may we find our healing.