When We Suffer or See People Suffering

This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from Ghassan Khalaf (from Lebanon.   Amidst bombings and destruction, Brother Khalaf faithfully visited victims of war to encourage them in their faith), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  (Hebrews 12:2)

When we suffer or see people suffering, a cry from the depth of our being comes up:  'Where is God?'  Especially when suffering lasts for years and years, then our morale deteriorates and our situation becomes frustrating.  We begin to question even the essential attributes of God:  His love, wisdom and faithfulness.  And still worse comes when we begin to question the reality of God's existence.  I am sure many people, even Christians, are shaken by these doubts when their prayers have gone unanswered for years.

How can our faith be sustained in such circumstances?  Our faith will be as deep as the cross is in our belief.  People tend to look to heaven in the midst of their suffering and say, 'where are you, God?'  They feel that God is on His Throne up there in heaven, far away and uncaring.  Those who have the cross at the center of their theology will not look up to a distant heaven as if to get help for their suffering, but will look to the crucified Jesus down here on Golgotha, and from His suffering, their hearts find healing in the midst of their suffering.

A moment of introspection: In light of God's Word, our benchmark of Wisdom for this life, we understand suffering as an expected condition.  Our Savior was known as the Suffering Servant, and we are not greater than He (John 15:20; John 13:16).  Christ suffered for the Work He did to establish God's Kingdom here on earth.  An early American spiritual proclaimed "He never said a mumbalin' word."  So we have an example that we can follow.  For the purpose of furthering God's Kingdom here on earth, we also may suffer.  We have strong faith--as deeply rooted in our being as the cross is, in our belief.  The cross declares committed faith, deeply rooted and anchored in the nature of God.  So, if we suffer, we do not question God's love, or His existence.  No, we forge ahead--for His purpose, not our own (Matthew 26:39; Hebrews 12:2).  Christ, our Savior and King; Christ, the crucified yet risen One and our example.

But what of others' suffering--bitter, family-rending, often lasting many years, world shattering, costing all?  How long do our prayers seek heaven's Throne on their behalf?  A few seconds, a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a month?  We are urged to pray continuously (Luke 18:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:17).  We are urged to join in their struggle, in prayer on the behalf of Christians in danger (Romans 15:30); we are urged to remember them (Hebrews 13:3) in this moment, in the day, the week, the month, the year ahead.  We have chosen the role of intercessory prayer warriors to augment our Christian path to righteousness.  We have chosen to remember, to pray for those whose faith costs them all--and to pray for them continuously, today, tomorrow, this week, this month, this year and next.  Sounds like a daunting task? 

We can do it! (Philippians 4:13; Matthew 17:20We are up to it, because we have a divine example in Christ.  Through Him, we look for healing in the midst of our own suffering for the cause of the Kingdom of God and the upward calling of Christ (Philippians 3:14); but even more so, we beseech Heaven to look with mercy on, and aid, our fellow Christians who are in danger, and suffering for their faith in Christ.

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