Steadfast in Society: On Suffering

There is nothing quite like the sweet stench of being reminded just how human you are! It is one thing to proclaim that we bare the cross loudly and proudly when there is no suffering anywhere to be found and another when you are knocked to your knees with the reminder that you, yes even you, will suffer. Often times when one thinks of suffering we think of the humble tax collector in Luke 18 who wouldn’t raise his eyes to heaven and repented feebly for God to, “Have mercy on him, a sinner,” but normally what it looks like is an adult in the fetal position on the couch afraid to place one toe on the carpet lest life have one more hay maker for your soul. There is no other way to put it… it simply hurts and it hurts a lot!

Many times in the midst of suffering and pain it becomes easy to ask, “Where are you God?” Or “Why am I forsaken when I need you most?” And comments such as “God never promised us happiness,” just don’t seem to cut it. And when it comes down to seeking help from others the most that can be given is a pat on the back or worst amateur psych-babel dung that aren’t worth the air it takes to offer the words of “comfort.” Many times we just end up sojourning in the midst of heart wrenching pain looking for only a drop of water from Lazarus’ finger to find but a bit of solace while remaining in agony. So what can we do? Where do we flee for refuge?

The answer to these questions the same way Peter did, ““Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…” Even in the midst (even more so in the midst) of temporal pain and suffering we must flee for refuge to the word. We must get off our butts, sit in the pew, and have life preached into us from the undershepherd. We are to cry out, “have mercy on me, a sinner!” Should we ever be so arrogant as to assume Jesus doesn’t or couldn’t possibly understand our pain?

C.S. Lewis wrote, ““God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain!” Christ knows our pain. Christ was made flesh so that He would become pain. He became pain even to the point of becoming sin so that we would be stainless. Jesus certainly wasn’t happy when He cried out to our Lord, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani,” nor did He do it so that we can be happy! He did it so we would be blameless before God. He did it for the forgiveness of sins! We have been bought at a price and it was paid in blood, not in tickle fights and butterfly kisses. We have been bought and born out of Christ’s suffering and we have been put to death in the waters of Holy Baptism in which we joined to a death like His and were resurrected in a life like His! There is nothing better than that on earth and it was brought to you by suffering, so that one day we would truly have peace… everlasting and eternal peace.

So go suffer. Be in pain. But do so in the midst of the church of Christ. Be among the body of believers who love you and care for you. Be among the faithful who have been forgiven. Make the sign of the cross in remembrance of the tree of life that was planted on your forehead with water. Sing the Te Deum. Hum the liturgy. Burn a little incense. Do what you must to keep your hearts and minds on Jesus. Just remember that there is suffering yet there comes peace in the Word and Sacraments of Christ. So go, hear the proclamation of the Gospel! Take eat and take drink of the merits of Christ’s suffering and death for you in the Lord’s Supper. Just remember that you are Christ’s child through Baptism and though this world might rip you apart, though it might murder every bit of emotion you might maintain, though it will eventually take your life, the one thing that it can’t take is your salvation which was won by Christ! Upon this we hang all hope. The Lord has had mercy on you, Thanks be to God!


Comments

Steadfast in Society: On Suffering — 3 Comments

  1. My dear Pastor Mize- your love for our Lord is evident in your exacting and passionate writing. When I listen to your sermons on Sunday mornings I am fed in the Word and am afforded an opportunity to grow. I thank you for bringing clarity and discipline into our walk. Upon reading your writings that address topics that are not generally dealt with such detail and candor I wish to share this with you. “Seek ME with your whole being. I desire to be found by you and I orchestrate the events of your life with that purpose in mind. When things go well and you feel Blessed you can find me smiling upon you. When you encounter rough patches along your life journey trust that My Light is still shining upon you. Seek Me in good times…seek Me in hard times….you will find Me watching over you all the time. Pastor- while this is from my devotional I recognize it as a means to strengthen our walk with our Lord knowing I/you-am/are upheld in His righteous right hand. Thank you for your ministry-thank you for being my Pastor and thank you for being an example of Christ’s love. Respectfully. Deborah.

  2. Gaven: I love you like a brother, though I’ve never met you personally. I’m a pastor like you, and I know all the platitudes-maybe even better as I’ve been at it a bit longer, and it sucks–and that’s the sum total of what you’ve written–it simply sucks. All the “Jesus loves you” in the world isn’t going to stop the hurt and the pain. You can look to the cross until Christ comes again and nothing is going to change-bro I know, believe me when I say, I know. My own daughter tried to taker her life, I tried myself years ago-you scream, you cry out, you curse God, you yell at the crucifix on the wall, and all you get is silence in return.

    It’s a bit hard to take bro, and my friend I know…I know.

    You want a divine answer-I did anyway: “WHY IS MY DAUGHTER SO FREAKIN” SICK?!?” All I got was silence. I got the platitudes from my sem profs; I got BS from my sem brothers; but no matter what they said, she was still over at Parkview.

    What’s the answer bro? I don’t know. I know there’s some grand christological plan for us, but right now it just hurts Gav, it hurts. And why isn’t the christological NOW?!? I pray, we pray; I confess, we confess; I study scripture, I believe, and yet it all just comes unwound. What to do?

    You and I both have to get into a pulpit, you and I both have to preach ‘good news,’ but the reality is that the ‘news’ is bad dude. What do we do?!?

    I think all we can do is to say what the man in the sub-par lectionary said last week: I do believe; help my unbelief.

    As you know pal I stay away from BJS (though I love Scheer like a brother).

    Whatever…wheneverp, Gav.

    Love ya man-

    Ken

  3. My favorite Bible verse is the one I turn to whenever there is suffering, whether personal or a friend’s pain. Philippians 4:4 – 7 tells us to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

    God’s peace is the second greatest gift from God, second only to the gift of salvation through His son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Getting down on your knees in good times and especially in bad, presenting your requests to Him will give you peace. It may not give you the answer you are looking for, but the peace of God guarding your heart and mind is more than enough. I pray that you and all who are suffering will know God’s peace.

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