Saturday, November 6, 2010

Christians and Suffering

One of the recurring themes in my life has been suffering. I suppose my suffering is not probably as serious as the suffering of a lot of people in this world. I have a twenty year history of migraine headaches. Sometimes they have been downright debilitating. But it's not a life-threatening condition. It is not something that brings lasting harm. It doesn't prevent me from maintaining employment, though there are some careers I couldn't carry on. But it's suffering. Don't try to tell me it isn't, especially when the room is spinning, my head is pounding, my brain is shut down, and I have no idea which way is up or if I will ever regain equilibrium.

I've been preparing for church services in Advent recently. Advent is, of course, a time of penitence. It is a time to remember our frailty and the fact that our sinful world is coming apart at the seams. It's a time to remember that our Lord has come in his mercy to deliver his people from sin and death. It is a time when we realize that all our suffering will come to an end.

It strikes me as I consider Jesus' words in Matthew 5.11-12 that God's blessing is upon his people when they endure hardship for his sake. We can know that we are in a long line of suffering people. We can know that we are by no means alone. We can know that our Lord will gather his people to himself at some time and will take care of all our pain and sorrow.

I've been thinking about that issue a lot this week, ever since hearing the latest news stories about attacks on Christians gathered for worship last Sunday. The gunmen may be able to take away those believers' mortal lives. But they are not able to rob them of life and immortality in Christ.  Are the survivors suffering? Absolutely. But they, along with the apostle Paul in Romans 8, can confess that there is nothing that can separate them from the love of God in Jesus Christ.

May the Lord give us relief from our suffering in this life. But whether he does or not, may he give us a living hope in eternity, where there will be no more suffering.

Dave Spotts
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