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Living Through Suffering

We might prefer that the Gospel come without suffering. Perhaps, were we to compose our own Gospel story, we would write one in which suffering was minimized, if not completely eliminated. It may be true for us that, if we had our druthers, we could sort of gloss over the suffery parts of the story and get straight to the good stuff.

After all, that’s what Peter asked for in Mark 8. Jesus told his disciples that he was going to suffer, be rejected by his community, and be executed. Peter took Jesus aside and told him exactly what he thought about that idea!

In her devotional written for “Disabling Lent,” Rev. Dr. Erin Raffety writes, “Peter wants a Gospel that avoids suffering. He wants a Messiah who avoids discomfort. He tells Jesus that he shouldn’t talk about his suffering, the cross, or the Christian life in ways that are so extreme. Somehow Peter thinks he knows better than Jesus. He doesn’t think Jesus’s suffering is real or warranted.” 

It is understandable to want a Gospel that omits suffering, but that isn’t the case. Jesus himself names it, and then experiences it first hand. In his crucifixion, the Savior suffers humiliation, pain, and death.

The Gospel doesn’t avoid suffering, because life involves suffering.

Personally, we experience the pain of illness and injury, the burden of grief and sorrow, the struggle for meaning and purpose. Together, we see the impact of violence in our communities, hatred and discrimination in our nation, and the horrors of war played out on a global stage. The systems of the world in which we live generate suffering as a by-product of their functioning. 

When Peter tried to expunge suffering from the story, he was thinking that he knew better than Jesus. We’ll be thinking about suffering this week in worship as we continue our series, “Disabling Lent.” In this season of reflection, may we deepen our understanding of who God is and what it means to be the Body of Christ in this suffering world.

See y’all in church.




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