Monday, April 6, 2015

Devotion 4.7.15

Why are people allowed to suffer and why do people suffer?  That seems to be a popular question, but the truth is our lives, at some point, intersect with suffering.  Sometimes this suffering is at our own hands.  As a principal in a large public school, my office was the place of confessions by staff, parents, kids.  If there is a country song to be written about a pain, malady, self-inflicted wounds, a dismal situation or some other form of suffering, I could write it because I've heard it (or done it myself).  The worse situations were physical abuse of a spouse and child because that number grows geometrically based on the number of children in the relationship. Each becomes a potential abuser as they become adults. 

It goes on from there.  "Husband got busted the other night with marijuana/cocaine/drunk... so Jimmy might not really be doing well in class today...."

Then there is suffering as victim.  A disease that claims a life early or in the middle of life.  Suffering that comes from illness as we age, which our own behavior may or may not have been responsible for.

The question as we sat in our offices, most of us Christians, was why such things happened?  Why does God allow it?  "How can God stop it?" I asked one time.  God gave us choice in the garden and even in a state of perfection, we chose poorly, so now on this side in a state of sin-filled imperfection, how do you stop it unless you just clean the slate, toss aside the creation gone awry, and start from scratch? (And clearly by our faith we know God has a plan we call Judgment Day for just that.)

As we examined favorite verses, one came to mind that I go to from time to time when I've pulled the gun and put a bullet through my own foot.  Romans 5:1 - 5:  "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith in this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character;  And character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."  Suffering from our own hands, from others, from disease, pain, and even suffering because of our faith through persecution.

God did clean the slate through his Son Jesus Christ.  The clean slate gives us hope in our suffering because of this faith we now proclaim. So, as we suffer, we turn our eyes to Christ in prayer, his Word, and through worship and praise of Christ. He comes to us in the sacraments and "delivers us from evil."

Our suffering, regardless of its source (namely sin), is temporary.  Christ is eternal.  We pray that Christ deliver us from evil and suffering, but we also pray to follow his perfect will in our lives.  We pray for strength in our sufferings which builds us and gives us hope.

Hope Men's Ministry

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