20 October 2010

Suffering, Rue and Differences

Suffering. We all have some of it in our lives. Some of us get by with a sprinkling and others get dumped on. Most of try to avoid it at all costs by avoiding, denying or medicating it. A few of us are compelled to try to alleviate the suffering of others. Some twisted souls enjoy either receiving or causing it. Old, young, white, black, saved, reprobate, rich, poor, man, woman none of us are exempt. I can't help but think of Ophelia's mad scene and her distribution of flowers.

"There's fennel for you, and columbines:
there's rue for you; and here's some for me:
we may call it herb-grace o' Sundays:
O you must wear your rue with a difference..."
Shakespeare was using rue as it symbolized sorrow or regret. Each of us has particular sorrows and regrets. Ophelia's sorrows drove her mad. She allowed her suffering to overwhelm her. Poor thing, love gone awry, torn between family and the prince who toyed with her. I do understand it, but the fighter in me wants her to get a grip. My estimation of suffering and hers are vastly different.

Christians tend to think of suffering as physical pain and torture; being beaten for our faith, being imprisoned or martyred. That's because we have delusions of grandeur and/or the wrong idea on the purpose, nature and scope of suffering. The sufferer has to have some value to us before we will intercede for them. How many times have we seen a story on the nightly news about people ignoring someone in distress? Stepping over their body without so much as a second glance? Why do we find it so amazing when someone steps in and does the right thing? We have odd reactions to suffering.

Suffering comes in all sized packages... minor inconveniences and major heart breaking malfunctions. For Christians it isn't the size of the suffering package but our reaction to it that is important. That's where the rubber meets the road and faith meets the world. Suffering and pain move us and impel us to action. Whether it's learning to live with chronic pain, losing loved ones, being ridiculed/imprisoned/tortured/martyred for faith or any number of causes in any conceivable combination, our suffering is meant to sanctify us and encourage others to glorify our God. That doesn't mean we have to like it. I just means that we should wear our suffering differently; with hope.

Ezra 9:13
13 "And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and our great guilt, since Thou our God hast requited {us} less than our iniquities {deserve,} and hast

Psalm 103:10
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

John 16:33
33 "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."

Acts 14:22
22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and {saying,} "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God."

Psalm 30:5
5 For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy {comes} in the morning.

Psalm 103:9
9 He will not always strive {with us} nor will He keep {His anger} forever.

1 Peter 5:10-11
10 And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen {and} establish you.

1 comment:

Victoria Lynch said...

Amen Rosemarie! No one escapes suffering, but the Christian alone has hope in the middle of life's many tragedies. I love the verse in 2 Cor 4:17 that says this "for our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory". Light momentary affliction here; BUT an eternal enjoyment of our glorious God, for the believer in Heaven where our real life begins.