Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lessons in Suffering

Scripture: Mark 8:31 – 9:1

Suffering is characterized by unpleasant feelings, agony and distress. There are days when I dread the complications of life, the struggle, the push and pull required to accomplish tasks and stay on track. When even ordinary chores seem to go wrong and simple conversations with loved ones turn into perpetual outbursts and rampant banter – you start to wonder what is the point. At times you may even think – where did I go wrong? We don’t schedule in time slots for unpleasant experiences or even foresee suffering for ourselves – our survival strategy is to avoid pain and suffering.

Jesus does teach us about the nature suffering.
When we make the choice to remain in control of our lives, we actually forfeit the authentic life that is found in Christ. We should deny the perceived right to govern ourselves and submit fully to God’s will and in this pursuit we will know the cost of discipleship from a deeply personal experience. Here we confront the opposition of our will, yet when you allow our will to be crucified there is the gift of eternal life that comes through death. Your work in suffering exists the very core of your soul.
When we suffer while our world of our friends, family, and co-workers watch and whisper, at times we are likely to feel embarrassed, but Jesus cautions us not to be ashamed.
Key thought
When you to compromise your most valuable possession for moments of pleasure or popularity in the world, you put your soul at risk.

Jesus, for the sake of my soul help me to move toward suffering with You so that I may have life.

Additional reading: Disciplines of the Spirit by Howard Thurman, “Suffering” p. 64

Hymn: It Is Well With My Soul

"It Is Well with My Soul" is a very influential hymn penned by hymnist Horatio Spafford and composed by Philip Bliss. This hymn was written after several traumatic events in Spafford’s life. The first was the death of his only son in 1871, shortly followed by the great Chicago Fire which ruined him financially (he had been a successful lawyer). Then in 1873, he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the S.S. Ville du Havre, but sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business concerning zoning problems follow the Great Chicago Fire. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with a sailing ship, the Loch Earn, and all four of Spafford's daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, "Saved alone." Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.

Katherine Ellington
Hollis, New York

1 comment:

  1. It is well with my soul! How well the words to this hymn helped as I experienced the loss of my grandson to child abuse. I still sing this in my spirit whenever trials come and we know they will come!