I pray that we may be found worthy to be cursed, censured and gunned down, and even put to death in the name of Jesus Christ, so long as Christ himself is not put to death in us.
Paulinus of Nola
(Bonaventure Cemetery / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2016)
The Christian must not only accept suffering: he must make it holy.
Nothing so easily becomes unholy as suffering…
Merely accepted, suffering does nothing for our souls except, perhaps harden them.
Endurance alone is not consecration.
Suffering is consecrated to God by Faith–not by faith in suffering but by faith in God.
Suffering, therefore, can only be consecrated to God by one who believes that Jesus is not dead.
And it is of the very essence of Christianity to face suffering and death not because they are good,
not because they have meaning,
but because the resurrection of Jesus has robbed them of their meaning.
The quickest and easiest way in which a hurting world will dismiss God, and especially the love of God, can be found deep within the black pit of suffering.
Suffering verses the embodiment of God as Loving Creator are each at the juxtaposition of comprehension.
The human mind cannot grasp, let alone digest, that there can be both suffering as well as a God who espouses to be Love personified existing within the same universe of both space and time simultaneously.
And yet the faithful hold tightly to the single fact of truth… that God hates suffering.
How can this be?
Why then won’t He simply wave a hand freeing us mere mortals from Suffering’s both evil and horrific grasp?
“Make it stop, please…”
pleads and begs the anguished, broken, pain ridden heart of the one so deeply wounded by the merciless hold of Suffering.
And Suffering, with its law of averages, and as painful as the reality is, will visit each and everyone of us at some point during our lifetime.
It will visit us up close and intimately personally…
it will visit those whom we love and hold dear
it will descend upon others… and it will be only thorough our deep empathy for humankind that we will in turn rage against it there as well.
Or even worse….
It will, void of all mercy, descend upon us on all fronts of our lives…relentlessly hammering us and appearing almost sadistically calculating, until we beg to be released from this life…
And yet there is but one explanation for suffering…
It is found in the cross.
That damned cross…
The cross of both death and damnation
Yet that same cross of both Grace and Salvation…
That same cross worn around my neck.
That same cross that is our bridge…mine and yours…
Our only hope,
The only way…
Which will lead us finally Home…
And as difficult as it is, that same saving cross is the raw epitome of Suffering…
We must all face the cross…
Just as we breathe a breath, we must face the cross…
There will be no avoiding it, no getting around it, no denying it.
It is the impassable road block to our journey and it must be dealt with,
by each of us, on our own individual journey home in our own unique way.
We simply cannot believe, live or profess that Jesus overcame death if we cannot, in turn, face the cross.
As hard and as painful and as difficult as that will be, we must each face the cross and all that it entails.
Many of us will spend a lifetime running from it, hiding from it, denying it…
It will be the hardest and most difficult thing any one of us will ever do,
but it is something we will all have to do…
if we are to share in the conquering of death by God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
…and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said,
“Behold, I am making all things new.”