Greetings to all and I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you a Healthy, Happy and Holy New Year! 

     Many people over the years, since I’ve been a Deacon, have asked me, why do we suffer at times?” Why does God allow it? Am I being punished? Does suffering have a purpose? The Bible acknowledges and explores these tough questions with honesty—and with a variety of perspectives. Reflecting on some of these Biblically rooted ideas can help us better understand and accept suffering as a place of God’s presence rather than an obstacle to our relationship with Him. There are five Biblical perspectives on suffering. Let’s explore the first two for this week.

     #1: Suffering is a natural consequence of sin. Although this may not be our favorite biblical takeaway, sometimes we bring suffering upon ourselves. We don’t need to look any further than Genesis 3—the fateful choice of Adam and Eve—for a clear example. That freely made decision to disobey God’s one prohibition led to all kinds of consequences: expulsion from the Garden of Eden, toiling for food, hostility between the sexes, pain in childbirth, fear of snakes, and more. the lesson is painful but practical: Choices have consequences, and bad choices cause us pain. Here’s another way of saying it: Sin doesn’t hurt God, it hurts us.

     #2: Suffering can teach and strengthen us. There is an Old Testament passage that reads: “My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for testing… Accept whatever befalls you, and in times of humiliation be patient. For gold is tested in the fire, and those found acceptable, in the furnace of humiliation. (Sirach 2:1,4-5) These words can be an interpretive lens for us. Challenges and pain are not just things that happened to us, rather, they are things that are shaping us, strengthening us, and molding us. While it’s true that suffering can at times crush us entirely, it is also true that suffering can gift us with new perspectives or a steely resolve. Think for a moment of Jonah in the belly of the fish or Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Ponder these two until next week and we will continue our perspectives on Suffering.

God Bless you and have a great week!

Deacon George +

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