The other night I was driving as I was driving on 185. I noticed that it was really getting dark but that people were not putting on their lights.
It puzzled me for a moment until I realized that I was wearing my sunglasses and when I took them off everything changed.
In today’s Gospel Jesus forces his disciples and all of us to take off our sunglasses and clearly see the demands of discipleship.
Jesus makes sure that everyone knows what it really means to follow Him.
Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”
No honest Christian can say they didn’t know that they would have to carry the cross to follow him.
All of us who follow of Jesus should expect suffering and pain.
Jesus is very upfront about this.
Often human suffering is one of the greatest challenges a person can face.
Sometimes when we are faced with suffering, we ask ourselves questions like,
Why do I have to suffer? Why me?
Why do I have to watch someone I love suffer?
Why doesn’t God take away my pain or the pain of my loved one?
These are very human questions and we should not be afraid to ask them.
Sometimes if we are honest with ourselves, our suffering is the result of the choices we have made in our lives.
- We all know that if we live a poor lifestyle, we increase our chances for illness and suffering.
- If we drive everyone in our life away because of our selfishness or our anger, we will probably suffer loneliness when we need people the most.
Sometimes it’s clear to see that our suffering is the result of the choices other people make.
- Those who pollute our world or produce foods with ingredients that we can’t even pronounce so that they last a little longer on the shelf, increase our chances for cancer and sickness.
- Sometimes other people’s sinfulness affects us. When we are in the wrong place at the wrong time and we are robbed or mugged, our suffering is caused by someone else’s sin.
Sometimes our suffering is just part and parcel of having a physical body the angels don’t have to worry about cholesterol.
- It should be a surprise to no one that sometimes bodies simply wear out.
- When we fall down, we risk breaking something. If we hit our thumb with a hammer instead of the nail (been there, done that), we are going to suffer.
Yes, suffering is often caused by how we, or someone else, chooses to use the free will that God has given us.
Sometimes suffering is really good waiting to happen. There have probably been moments in our lives when our suffering has molded us, stretched us and shaped us into being better people, more loving people, more compassionate people, holier people.
A young father once told me… Kids stretch you Father. and so does marriage. (Truer words were never spoken)
The hardest type of suffering a human being can face is when someone who is innocent, someone who had done everything right, and nothing wrong has to carry the cross of suffering.
Our faith can easily be shaken by the sight of a child who was abused or ill.
Sometimes it’s so hard to understand why a young Mom had to die of cancer or why a raging storm like Florence is permitted to take a innocent human life.
In difficult painful situations like these it is hard to find understanding or an answer that comforts. Words and theories just don’t cut it when we see an innocent person suffering
In moments like this, all we can do is take God at his word hold on to him
and trust that He loves us;
It seems that sometimes the loss of a loved one or the suffering of an innocent person is allowed to happen according to God’s plan. And it is just not possible for us to understand why.
God doesn’t cause the suffering, but sometimes he allows it to happen or refuses to stop it either.
Our hearts are often broken when we see suffering humanity on the evening news. Several years ago a the lifeless body of a Syrian boy washed ashore in greece. I looked around our friary rec room and there was not a dry eye among us.
When God doesn’t stop the suffering of an innocent person, we need to find some comfort or at least understanding that in the fact that Jesus, who was also an innocent person, had to carry the cross, suffer and die.
When humanity walked down the wrong road, when our sinfulness caused us pain and suffering, God didn’t run away. He did leave us to be victims of our own designs or our broken choices
God ran to us and became one of us and for us Jesus walked down the road of suffering and pain so that we might be reconciled with God forever.
Jesus, innocent though He was, bore the weight of our sin. His love was redemptive; in other words, His suffering love saved us.
I know that for some much of what I said is as worthless as straw. I know I haven’t answered the question of suffering or the cross. I know that there are people who are still hurt or still filled with doubt because of the crosses that they have, or someone they love, have had to carry in their lives.
I offer you these humble thoughts in the hope that they will help us see the connection between love and suffering.
Sometimes love calls us to suffering
And When someone suffers no matter who they are no matter where they come from we, all of us are called to run to them and love them more and help them carry the cross anyway we can.
Yes we need to take off our sunglasses and see clearly what it means be a disciple.
When, not if, our time of suffering comes, may we all have strength and courage and the faith to pick up the cross and follow Jesus on the road to Calvary without fear.
For Jesus said…, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”
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