by Shawn McEvoy
For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. - 1 Peter 3:17
Suffering. It's not standard daily devotional fare, because let's face it, usually we want to begin or end our day being uplifted, or even better, lifting up God, rather than focusing on our pains and problems.
But there's the rub... we all have pains and problems. Christian and non-Christian. Lifelong disciple and baby believer. Red and yellow, black and white. Everyone, from the moment he or she was born, has struggled, tried, failed, hurt, sinned, misunderstood, and reacted. Humanity shares a true brotherhood over suffering, one that we might understand a lot better if suffering weren't also so relative. By which I mean, one person's issues may sound simple, easy-to-solve, even petty to another. "That's nothing compared to what I've had to endure!"
But the fact is, your sorrows and difficulties are real to you. It's one reason why I'm no fan of when people say a certain place or time in their lives isn't "the real world," as if the spot they are currently tucked away at is immune from any degree of difficulty.
Suffering is very real, and there's certainly no reason any Christian would expect life to be otherwise. We purport to follow a "Suffering Savior." His stripes have healed us, and wow do we seem to feel them sometimes, which is as it should be, as we deserved them instead of Him. If we agree that no person but one - no matter where they lived or how easy or hard they had it - has escaped sin's corruption, then how much more must we agree that truly NO person has escaped suffering?
Look at what Peter suggests in today's verse: you can suffer for doing good, or you can suffer for doing bad. By extension, some of the problems in your life may be a result of your own rebellion, while other hurts may naturally result from walking so closely with Christ that you ache at the injustice and hardship around you, with the world despising and persecuting you.
In the classic allegory Hinds' Feet on High Places, Much-Afraid journeys with companions named Sorrow and Suffering, and these two assist her in her climb up the Injury Precipice, which is a part of her transformation into "Grace and Glory."
The same is true for you. Your sufferings have informed you, educated you, helped you along in your journey. You may despise them, but they are yours. And they will be with you whether you are doing right, or not. Of course, the nature of them will be quite different.
There may be one way, though, to avoid suffering. There's a third option, left out here by Peter, but not left out by John in the Revelation. It's the lukewarm response to life, the do-nothing approach. This is the approach that cocoons itself off from life and all of its pain. And make no mistake, "Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something," says that famous theologian the Man in Black in The Princess Bride.
You may not feel anything from inside a cocoon; in fact, it may be an abundance of pain and suffering that forced you in there. But remember, no creature that cocoons itself is intended to stay locked up forever. The point is to be rested, healed, matured, transformed. To become more beautiful, useful. Even the emerging process itself carries a degree of struggle, but one that, if the insect did not go through itself, would leave it too weak to fly.
So be lifted up in your suffering today.
It is a companion.
It is designed to transform you.
It gives you a share in the inheritance of Christ and the brotherhood of humanity.
And it gives you empathy, which gives you every excuse for ministry.
God's Undeserved Gift to the World: Christian Sufferers
Trusting God in the Darkness
Source: crosswalk.com The devotional
Jesus Calms The Storm by Metropolitan Mor Eustathius Matta Roham
The Gospel narrates that after a long day of ministry, Jesus wanted to cross the Sea of Galilee. While traveling He fell asleep. .. When Jesus rises from His sleep, He does not at first speak to the disciples, but to the winds and the waves, telling them to be quiet and to be still. By doing so, Jesus eliminates their reason to be afraid. ...
It is I; do not be afraid by Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros
We often ask: why God does not save us from the storm? Storms are part from our human nature and from the changing conditions of this world. Jesus did not come to change the weakness of the human nature or the physical conditions of this world, but to change the hearts of men and women. He does not always stop the storms, but he is always present with us in the storms to give us the inner strength to weather the storms.
How to Face Life's Storms by Dr. Stephen Felker
I have gone through several storms in my life. At times God allowed the storm or defeat to get my eyes back on Jesus. At times I believe God was just strengthening my character, and teaching me some important lessons. But through it all, I can say that none of those storms really hurt me, but only made me a better person.
What Should I Do When Trials Come? by Steve Brandon
I hope that you would get beyond, "survival mode," which simply seeks to endure until the trial is done. Such a response, though natural for us, fails to see God's purpose for you within your trials. My heart is that you would see God's purposes in the trials in your life and respond appropriately when they come.
Bearing Life's Burdens by Rev. James Mattek
I'd like to have you picture the burdens of life as being like stones. Every time we don't deal well with life it's kind of like we're adding another stone to our burlap sackóbefore you know, we've got quite a burden.
Who's to Blame for Human Suffering?
I daresay that if the innocent suffer they do so because one of us -- you or me or some other thug -- now or in the past has set their pain in motion. If the innocent continue to suffer they do so because we have yet to take responsibility for their pain; we have yet to take sufficient responsibility for their relief.
Suffering | General Sermons | Lectionary Sermons | Spiritual/Moral Articles | Malankara World Journal | Malankara World Library
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