Triumph. Is triumph possible in the midst of suffering?
It has been a roller coaster of a week. Last Saturday I officiated a funeral for a woman who lost her battle with cancer. Claudia was one of “my list of 10”. Our church had committed to praying for 10 households in the month of December. Ten families for 30 days. At the end of the 30 days, Claudia’s husband called to tell me she had gone home to the Lord.
It was a bittersweet moment. She was out of pain and she was in God’s presence; her suffering was over. Yet, her family was just beginning the journey of grief, loss, and their own suffering.
At the funeral, Claudia’s 5 year old granddaughter sat in the front row with her little feet dangling over the pew. I think we all wondered if she was comprehending any of what was happening. When the pallbearers carried the casket from the sanctuary, little Emma began to weep. They were big tears with sobs coming from the depths of her soul.
We don’t need to know all the details of a situation to experience the pain of suffering. Suffering is an equal opportunist that way. As Christians, we understand the WHY of suffering better than we think. We know…in our heads…that sin entered the world when Adam and Eve fell from grace. And when we ask “why”, it’s really a cry asking ourselves and God “when”.
When will the suffering end? When will You send Your Son to end the pain for good? When will I feel joy again? When will I feel safe again? When will I know…in my heart…that all this is truly working together for good?
The Virgin Mary was visited by the Angel, Gabriel. He told her she would be the mother of the long awaited Messiah; Jesus; Emmanuel; God with us. We have made that story so beautiful. For Mary, it was a terrifying announcement of a life of suffering. She would be mocked and ridiculed. She would be talked about and shamed for her “unwanted” pregnancy. She would hear the cruel words spoken about her “crazy” rabbi son. And she would hold his limp, lifeless body in her arms before they laid him in a borrowed tomb.
We know the end of the story. We have read the Book. Jesus is victorious and Mary’s suffering ends in triumph.
The same is true for you. The promise of Christ’s victory is for all people, and it extends into our time and place. During your season of suffering, hold on to this promise. Good always wins. God always triumphs.
It is a windy day in Michigan here. I sit and watch the trees swaying and remnants of autumn’s leaves rustling in the wind.
There is a bush in our front yard near the road. The deer have been nibbling at it all winter long. I’m not sure it will survive the spring though. I think they may have stripped it of all life.
The wind and the signs of spring remind me of a verse in John’s Gospel. Jesus tells Nicodemus that the Spirit of God is like the wind. We cannot see the wind. We don’t really know what it is or where it comes from. All we can see is the effect it has on its surroundings. And so we see the trees sway. Paper and leaves move over the ground as if on their own accord. And petals drop to the ground.
So it is of those born of the Spirit of God. We don’t really understand how it happens. It just does. And we see the affects of His Spirit as it moves upon the person. We see them change; become more like Christ; we see them desire the things of God.
And so we see what we want, but we do not know how to get there. It is a frustrating place to be. We see it. We want it. But we cannot reach out and touch it. And we certainly cannot control it.
So we wait…and we seek…and we pray. And we are reminded it is not by power or might, but by the Spirit of God.
Today, pray this prayer with me…
Come, Holy Spirit, come! Amen.