Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Weight of Suffering

"I am not a pastor, nor the wife of a pastor"--in that way I can relate to Amos, the prophet--but God has given me the opportunity and privilege of listening to and speaking into pain and suffering. So, so many women and children are hurting as a result of other's sin against them. Sin has ravaged minds, hearts, bodies, and souls. Sin that feels so out of control, overwhelming, engulfing, smothering.

And as I considered the few lives that have touched mine recently, I have grieved. We share a burden, a weight, but God carries it. And that is the comfort, the strength, the hope. God is there.

Jesus came to mind. Jesus, walking dusty roads, hearing the voices of the desperate, the needy, the hurting, the hungry; hands reaching, tears falling. Jesus saw. Jesus heard. And, no doubt, Jesus grieved. His world was distorted. His creatures were suffering. His purpose, veiled. His reach, limited. Day after day, year after year, person after person, He saw, He heard, He listened, He loved, He prayed. Being God in the flesh did not give him a bye on suffering. He was fully aware, sensing, knowing. But His knowledge was not limited to the immediate. Even as He left behind the lame man at the Beautiful Gate, the poor widow, the wasting leper, He knew...

Jesus knew His plan would not be thwarted. His people would be redeemed. His creation would be remade. His purpose would be revealed. His might, expressed. His sovereignty, acknowledged.

Suffering would be His instrument; death His servant. Men would rally against Him, beat, mock, and crucify Him. Yet He would die for their souls. Betrayal, isolation and shame would accompany Him. But, being God, they reflected His innocence and others' guilt.

God with us. Emmanuel. He has not left us as orphans but has provided, through faith in His death and resurrection, His Spirit, Word, and people. By His grace and gift, we will live out our God-given purpose of reflecting and glorifying Him,

For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body...

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:5-10, 16-18)

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