“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” – 1 Peter 5:10
My first recollection of real suffering occurred when I (Rich) was about eight and my uncle had died of leukemia. When Uncle Art finally succumbed, my parents brought me along with two of my sisters to his funeral service at a small church in Alcove, New York.
My sensibilities were limited when it came to grasping the loss of someone dying in their late forties. But when my uncle’s elderly father came into the church I began to get it. His head was freshly bandaged from an early morning fall on February ice. As he made his way to the front of the church he no longer could contain his grief and began to wail loudly over the death of his son. I was startled and frightened.
His open and raw grief made suffering very real. I quickly sensed suffering could overwhelm the soul. I remember how uncomfortable I was. I wanted to get out of the church building. But then something else happened. The church community came forward to where he stood at the casket. They held him, hugged him, prayed with, and comforted him.
Soon the silence of a funeral returned. The man who had lost his son was held by a community of faith who suffered with him. It was as if his suffering was distributed to all of us in a hundred pieces.
Suffering is never pleasant, but it refines us and draws us closer to Christ. Today in prayer, pray for those who are suffering that their faith in Jesus may increase.
"Suffering can never ultimately be meaningless because God himself has shared it." - Philip Yancey
God’s Word: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” – Romans 8:17