By

Suffering is part of our shared reality.

Humans, animals, plants and our environment

are all vulnerable to suffering.

Suffering can be intentional or unintentional.

It can result organically, or the consequence of

human error or be imposed by choice – as is

the case this Palm Sunday morning when two

Egyptian Coptic churches were bombed by

terrorists and over 100 people either killed or

wounded.

Suffering is real and can be experienced

physically, emotionally, psychologically and

spiritually.

It can contribute to feelings of isolation and

confinement.

Suffering attacks the weak and the strong

alike.

It can harden our heart or move us to

compassion.

Suffering threatens our well-being, but does

not have to consume our story.

The contemporary writer Rob Bell writes:

“Our tendency in the midst of suffering is to

turn on God. To get angry and bitter and

shake our fist at the sky and say, "God, you

don't know what it's like! You don't

understand! You have no idea what I'm going

through. You don't have a clue how much this

hurts… The cross is God's way of taking away

all of our accusations, excuses, and arguments.

The cross is God taking on flesh and blood and

saying, "Me too.”

Jesus suffered unimaginable pain as a result of

betrayal, jealousy, misperception, anger, fear

and barbaric governance.

Jesus faced his suffering with determination

and confidence. Nothing would prevent him

from offering God’s love to all who would

receive it. And, God would help him.

While I do not believe God intends suffering

for anyone or anything, I‘m certain that God

works through whatever means and in any

circumstance we offer to God, even our

suffering.

Like us, Jesus felt alone in his suffering – as if

God had turned away. But I believe that even

while feeling alone, Jesus offered his suffering

to God and never faltered in trusting in God’s

unfathomable love for him and the world.

The story of Jesus’ passion engages us right

where we are – in a world of suffering. But as

this is only part of Jesus’ story, so we are given

hope in life beyond suffering.

For me, Jesus should never be defined by his

suffering but rather by his love.

Jesus’ story reveals God’s heart overflowing

with undefeated, ceaseless love.

When in the midst of suffering, we can take

heart. Jesus knows our pain. He is with us,

enfolding us in God’s love.

As Christians, we believe that one day all

suffering will be healed and all life restored in

God. This is our hope and promise through

the gift of God’s love revealed in Christ Jesus.

So remember, God will never allow suffering

to be the end of the story.

 
St. Paul's is located at 33 W. Dixon Ave, Dayton, OH 45419; phone: 937-293-1154; fax: 937-293-3723 Office hours are Monday - Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.