The Joy of… Suffering?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
8 “But as for you, Israel my servant, Jacob my chosen one, descended from Abraham my friend, 9 I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, ‘You are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. 10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:8-10 (NLT)
254 An incurable illness restricted his movements. And yet he cheerfully assured me: “The illness suits me well and I love it more all the time. If I were given the choice, I would be born again this way a hundred times!”(1)
Moreover, the people are instructed often and with great diligence concerning the holy sacrament, why it was instituted, and how it is to be used (namely, as a comfort for terrified consciences) in order that the people may be drawn to the Communion and Mass (2)
I have the honor to visit a 97 year old lady for about 10 minutes a week. She lives with some other eldery people around the corner. It isn’t much of a visit by the world’s standards, but it is one I treasure.
She has lived a fascinating life, one that would have me asking her to tell the stories from, for she has worked in places that I find extremely fascinating. But with the strength she has, just a few minutes of hearing about God working with our preschoolers, and a prayer of blessing, and it is time to leave.
Yet her contentment is amazing, her joy as she sees me is so evident. She doesn’t mind her weakness. She seems to treasure our brief moments together. This incredible lady, me, and the God who loves us so! A few moments that make such an incredible difference.. in my life.
It is hard to look at her weariness, for the smile and the assurance of her love for God overwhems it. She is more at peace than so many I know. So much more full of joy. Despite the suffering, despite the hours spent alone.
There are all different types of suffering. Suffering can be caused by evil oppression, by poverty, by health, by age, by loneliness?
But what we find in the suffering makes all the difference in the world. In this time of Advent, can we find Christ there? Can we find the joy of having no other hope but that which is found in Christ Jesus? The hope of sharing in His glory?
When we do, when in the midst of the pain we hear His voice; when we realize the comfort Jesus brings to us in the Lord’s Supper; in those moments of prayer when we can only listen, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to us, that is when the quiet joy comes flooding through our souls. That is when the brokenness finds healing.
That is when we know we are loved.
Such a joyous thought…
I pray that you and I would know God’s love that deeply, with that assurance, at any age, in any situation. Because of that love, may joy be generated at our very core.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1244-1246). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
(2) Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 56). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.