Wednesday, July 5, 2017
What is Life Without Suffering?
Hebrews 2:18 Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.
The author of the letter to the Hebrews sets up a picture of the Messiah which encompasses humanity. It is the suffering servant, Jesus, who was willing to live and die in human flesh who provided the pathway for all of humanity to be adopted as sisters and brothers into the holy family.
Because Jesus suffered, he is able to help God’s children who are also being tested through the trials of life. A Jew who became a follower of the the Way in the early years of Christianity stood opposed to the religious and the political leaders of their day. This was not a popular stance and for this they would suffer. Their hope was to be found in their beloved Messiah who had already suffered greatly on their behalf. Now, they understood that when they suffered (for what is life without suffering?), they would be able to follow the path that Christ had already laid out before them.
Today a friend send me a blog post in which someone was relishing a life in which there would be no obstacles. On first glance that sounds pretty sweet and I’m afraid that sometimes we try to portray the Christian life in the same way. We are tempted to preach a gospel in which it would seem that the suffering of life is removed by faith. Sadly, there’s something terribly wrong with that kind of gospel message because it doesn’t resemble our Messiah.
Jesus suffered greatly in his lifetime because he loved and cared for all of humanity. We are called to take up our cross and follow him, and that includes going through the rough waters of life. If we experience a life in which there is no tension, no resistance, no experience to smooth out our rough edges, then we will never be shaped or formed into the image of Jesus Christ. I don’t like going through dark days, and yet, it is in those places where I have learned the most about reaching out and sensing God in ways that I never would have thought possible.
We would need to wonder whether we were really alive if we were not to suffer. Even a small child has to learn by experience. If they never feel hot or cold, will they ever know what those sensations are? Not that they have to be experienced to the extreme, and yet, they are not always pleasant. Our five-month old granddaughter was quite distraught over the cold sensation of sunscreen before we went out in the sun yesterday, however, without that little bit of suffering she would have suffered even more from sunburn. Sometimes suffering keeps us from even more suffering. We will have to go through experiences in life that are not always pleasant, but without them we will never grow.
Jesus suffered and promises to go with us through the trials. The early Christians faced unbelievable pain and suffering at the hands of the authorities. We never know what we may face today or tomorrow, but Jesus is able to help us because he knows how it feels. There is no real life without suffering, and Jesus went through real life so that he can help us with ours.
Lord, thank you for being a willing servant of the Father. Please, help me to follow you daily. Amen.