Friday, February 27, 2015


I have been talking about suffering for a few weeks and have a few more to go. Suffering isn’t one of those topics that is going to get most people excited about coming to worship. Unless you are suffering.

But, pain in life is inevitable. Suffering is unavoidable. Everybody hurts sometimes. If you aren’t experiencing pain or suffering—just wait. We have all experienced pain. Some of us are going through a hard time right now. And, we will all suffer. I’ve been a pastor / chaplain for two decades now. I haven’t seen it all, but I have seen enough.
o I once held a man whose wife took a bunch of pills and ended her life.

o I’ve sat for hours and listened to men and women living in an institution with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. I know they have a parent or a sibling or somebody somewhere who is suffering because somebody they love is suffering.

o I remember praying with a man that love and life would back into his marriage.

o I’ve listened to a single parent talk with great pain about how she is overwhelmed and alone.

o I done hundreds of funerals: dozens tragic and unexpected.

And I’m just sharing with you the tip of the iceberg. I haven’t seen it all, but I have seen enough. A mentor told me a long time ago I would get used to things like this. I’m still waiting. Pain in life is inevitable. Suffering is unavoidable. Everybody hurts sometimes. 

Your pain is probably not found on the above list. Maybe is it guilt toward yourself, resentment to others, or fears about tomorrow. Maybe it is being alone while surrounded by loved ones, trying to meet the unattainable standard of perfection, or distance from someone you once felt so close to. Or it could be one of a million other things.

Jesus knew what it was like to suffer. He experienced enough pain in his thirty-three years for a few lifetimes. Emotionally, his best friend Peter denied him three times. Once was more than enough. Physically, he experienced a beating that was beyond cruel and unusual. Spiritually, at the end of his life he even found himself distant from God and asked God why God had abandoned him. He is not the first of the last person to ask that question.

I pray for our congregation and community every day. I pray for times of blessing and abundance and prosperity. It is so cool to see people living with joy and fruitfulness. I also pray for those in pain. The small types of pain that will wear us down over time and the big types of pain that overwhelm us. I pray for healing, hope, and His presence.

I know something else about pain and suffering. These siblings will do something in us that good times never will: Lead us to a dependence and faith to our Heavenly Parent who created us, loves us, is present with us, heals us, and saves us. 

We are on a journey that began with sackcloth and ashes. The Good News is that it ends with resurrection.

The best is yet to come…


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