Scripture for Today:
What do you do in response to suffering and affliction?
Let's start out with an easily understood scenario of "suffering" (at least we like to think it is suffering). I have a bad cold or the flu. I ache. My head is stuffed. What do I do? After loading myself up with over the counter meds I begin the mantra, "I really don't feel so good." I begin to play the pity card and ask my wife to bring me something to drink or eat. I just don't feel so good. In most of our minds this is the extent of our suffering and affliction.
Is that really suffering? Is that really affliction? No. It is not. That's just me being a baby because I don't feel good because of a cold.
Real suffering and affliction begins to take hold of our lives when we face a daunting diagnosis of cancer or prolonged illness. Real suffering and affliction begins to take hold of our lives when we face daily food shortages and the corresponding hunger. Real suffering and affliction begins to take hold of our lives when we are persecuted, tortured, and killed because of our belief in Jesus Christ.
I hope you get the picture. Most of us never truly face suffering and/or affliction. Yet, we act as if the small things of life are the things that are true suffering and affliction.
In today's passage, Paul talks about suffering and affliction. He doesn't gripe and moan about it. Instead, he transforms it. He refers to a God that offers consolation to those that suffer. He refers to a God that knows well the sufferings of Christ and so is able to console us in our worst moments, because he has already experienced the worst--and he did it for you and me.
Read that passage one more time and see what God is able to do on your behalf to help you through your times of suffering and affliction. Then, like Paul give thanks and rejoice at what God is able and willing to do for us.
Pastor Terry Goodman
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