Scripture: Romans 8:12-17
Key verses: (16-17) “It is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ – if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.”
Reflection: Faith in Jesus Christ is NOT an immunization that prevents suffering. Indeed, the apostle Paul suggests that faith in Jesus Christ will increase the likelihood of our suffering.
Suffering is a part of human life. We experience physical pain, injuries, and illnesses. We grieve. We are rejected and betrayed. We live with mental illness and we are caught in addictions. We watch loved ones struggle with adversity. It is certainly tempting to long for an immunization that would protect us in all ways. And many times faith has been “falsely advertised” as that kind of immunization.
The early Christians never believed that following Jesus Christ would protect them from suffering. For most of them, following Jesus brought more suffering in their lives. They found hope and strength that sustained them through suffering.
They believed that their suffering drew them closer to Christ, so their suffering had meaning and purpose and wasn’t meaningless. They also understood themselves as part of a community, so they never suffered alone. Notice the plural nouns in the verses above – children, heirs, we.
When you face suffering, do you find meaning in how your struggles can deepen your faith? Do you seek out community or do you hide your suffering from those around you? Faith isn’t an immunization but it can offer hope and strength in the reality of our lives.
Prayer: O Lord, when I am in pain, remind me of your presence with me. Surround me with community to love and support me. Give me hope and strength that will sustain my faith. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Author: Millie Snyder
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].