Find peace despite earthly suffering
Published 5:28 pm Tuesday, December 15, 2009
All of us know something about suffering.
Suffering is one of those universal afflictions of humanity. No doubt suffering comes in varying degrees brought about by multiple causes, some in our control and some wholly outside our control.
We watch on TV and the Internet as people across the globe face even more dire forms of suffering.
Some are starving. Some live in societies where life, particularly the lives of women and children, are not as valuable as they ought to be. Some live in places war torn. Some live in abject poverty. Suffering for these children of God is a daily grind, a daily reminder that life is not easy or joyful. All of us know something about suffering.
What most of us don’t know much about is the kind of suffering Paul is writing about in the fifth chapter of Romans. Paul is enduring, and he knows others are enduring, too, suffering at the hands of the religious and political establishments because of his continued proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ. Paul is literally in prison and not in control of his physical life. Someone else decides whether he lives or dies. Someone else decides the amount of suffering he will endure.
The fact that Paul’s suffering is different from the suffering mentioned in the preceding paragraphs doesn’t diminish our suffering. Neither does it mean that our suffering mentioned is unimportant to God. But, noting the difference is important to our understanding the text.
In fact, noting the difference actually serves to enhance the meaning of the text for both Paul and us. No matter what kind of suffering the children of God are facing,
God is moving through that suffering to bring about peace. And, peace is the whole of the subject in chapter 5 of Romans.
Since God as acted in Jesus Christ to save us by grace through faith, no matter what we face, no matter what suffering comes our way, we can abide in a peaceful relationship with God and each other.
Mark Davenport is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Alabaster (Cumberland). Visit fpcalabaster.org.