Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Harmony of Faith and Suffering

2 Corinthians 3-7

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

The corresponding devotional touched me and I want to share a few excerpts from it.  It talks about how suffering breeds sin, and how because it was so overpowering God was forced to resort to desperate measures to deal with it.

"God's answer...Jesus Christ.  God in human flesh. God the Father would send God the Son, clothed in human flesh, into the world to suffer and accept the consequences of sin.

Still sin and pain seem to prevail.  Babies die of cancer.  Puppies are hit in the road.  We yell at our children.  The power of suffering is that great.  So what does the cross really mean? What good is an escape route, really, if it does not open until the end of time? The answer, in part, is that the cross never promises to free us from pain and suffering, not at least in the present.  The cross promises just the opposite:  The certainty of pain and suffering.

Here is the mystery:  The path of joy runs straight through the heart of pain and suffering.  Christianity, alone among the world's religions, does not run from pain but embraces it, and then and only then does it move through it.  Jesus Christ is our example of faith."

What is faith exactly?  

Merriam-Webster's dictionary gives this definition: (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2): belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b(1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust

"Faith, at the very least, asks us to believe this:  The path to heaven runs through suffering.  Through the sorrow of the world, through that certain fog of doubt and pain, we have faith:  sure of what we hope for, certain of what we do not see.  God is love.  God is in control.  God will wipe away every tear and replace it with a river of joy.

Faith carries with it movement-from what we know to what we long for, from suffering to joy, from earth to heaven.  That movement, that song, is always driven and graced by the choice we make to love."

I hope you all are having a blessed day!  We are off to an orthodontist appointment.  :)

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