Suffering for Good

Life Notes—May 12, 2011

“For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly.  If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that?  But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval.”  1 Peter 2:19-20 

All people suffer at some point in their lives.  They fall physically or mentally or emotionally ill, and suffer.  For most of us, suffering occurs off and on throughout our lives.  Those with chronic conditions may be in some sort of pain on a continual basis.  But we all know suffering, even if in varying degrees. 

Those of us who have been believers for some time know that Christians do not suffer less than non-Christians. In fact, particularly in some areas of the world, Christians may actually suffer more.  The difference is that Jesus Christ gave us a vision of life that extends beyond suffering and a perspective that sees purpose in trial.  Laura Story, a worship leader and song-writer, has known more than her share of hardship, yet she writes and sings with such passion and energy one might mistake her for one who has enjoyed a life of relative ease ( Laura has a song playing on Christian radio stations now called Blessings.  The lyrics, in part, are:           

What if Your blessings come through raindrops?

What if Your healing comes through tears?

What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if the trials of this life, are Your mercies in disguise? 

In the first letter of Peter, above, the author notes that unless we suffer for some wrong we have done, our suffering has God’s approval.  Our suffering is evidence of God at work, shaping our lives for good.  Many of us can look back on painful events and see blessings that might not have been otherwise received.  In the months and years after the sudden death of my father when I was a teenager I grew in countless ways; but I also learned to not let my affectionate feelings for those I love go unexpressed.  I learned life can change in an instant, for better or for worse, and that moments are to be cherished.  I learned when life appears hopeless, reason for hope can manifest from unlikely sources.  I learned when our hearts break, God’s heart breaks with ours, so we do not suffer alone.  I learned when my vision forward is so clouded with doubt I can only see one step ahead, that one step will move me far enough forward to see the next step.  While I still prefer to see God’s mercies through joyful events, along with Laura Story, I have known God’s mercies through the trials of my life. 

This Sunday our church will have one service as one family in one location at one time.  We will gather in the downtown sanctuary at 10:00 to praise and worship together.  Tom and Mitch will preach together and their sermon title is “Growing in Faith Together.” 

Come home to church this Sunday.  Find God’s mercy in your trials.

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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