Saturday, March 13, 2010
I am not talking about ritual beatings, or holy lacerations. But suffering is how we become wholly connected to one another. Suffering is a part of life, hunger, poverty, homelessness, sickness, disease, violence, racism, disasters, hate, and we could go on. Suffering as a discipline is the intentional act of entering into someone else’s suffering. We see that Job’s three friends did this when they found out that their friend had lost his cattle, servants, and children within one day (Job 2:11-13). When I served my internship as a hospital chaplain, I walked into rooms with families to help them through the news that a loved one had just died. We learn through love to suffer not just for people, but with people. Suffering with each other is what unites us as one. Stanely Hauerwas says that God makes it possible for us to share our life with him because he suffered with us and for us through his son Jesus. Too many times when suffering is happening we want to run in the other direction, or try to lighten the mood, or fix the situation. However, when we enter into someone else suffering we are saying that they are important enough, that their feelings are real enough, and that love is strong enough to keep us by their side. Suffering with others is simply crying when we see someone crying, when we see someone hungry maybe we fast and give them our lunch, when we see someone with no clothes maybe we give them our shirt and we go without, when we see someone lose a loved one, we give them out time and love. Suffering for others, and for God shows that our love is genuine and real, and not conditional. Acts 5:41 the disciples rejoiced because they had suffered for the name of Christ. Romans 5:3 reminds us that suffering produces endurance. Romans 8:16-18 says that as children of God we share in his suffering. Hebrews 2:10 says that it is through Jesus’ suffering that we are made perfect, and our suffering for the gospel points to His perfection. Suffering is part of our faith, if we love God, we will be hated by the world. Therefore, enter into the suffering of Christ, suffer for his message and find comfort, suffer in the pain of others, and bear each other’s burden with love.