Another earthquake strike. This time in New Zealand, and the early reports say that 65 are dead. More uprisings in the Middle East. Unrest, instability, and much emotional turmoil is felt across the region. In the US we see financial woes coming to a head as protesters pile into capital building trying to provide for their families as elected officials seek to get a grip on the problems and make sure things don’t get worse. Those are the headlines, but the suffering doesn’t end there. The suffering that I see regularly as a pastor pales in scope, but is striking in its power. Suffering, on any level, is real and incredibly difficult. As Christians we know the reality of suffering and never want to dismiss pain as anything less. As Christians we also know that there is a source of Life and Freedom from suffering that we can turn to. As Jesus was predicting his own suffering and death many of the crowds who followed him to receive miracles turned away. Jesus knew his disciples were struggling with the reality of suffering and asked them, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Peter responded with a statement that could be nothing less than a Spirit inspired word of Faith: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (See John 6:60-69)
Over the next few weeks my congregation in Lynnfield, MA is going to be looking at suffering in the Bible to identify ways that God’s people throughout history have dealt with a God who either sends or allows calamities to happen. We will prayerfully identify examples of suffering in our own lives, our community, and our world; and see how we can respond in faith like Peter did turning to Jesus as the source of Life.
The journey might get a little messy. It might bring up some hurts and pains for each of us. It might even be challenging to come face to face with our greatest fears. But, in the end we will celebrate Life with Jesus. (See Romans 8:18-39)
Each week we’ll post some highlights and examples from the Scriptures on how we can face suffering with Grace…I hope you’ll join us.