Preparing for Worship: Rejoicing in Suffering

Preparing for Worship: Rejoicing in Suffering

John Haralson   •   May 20, 2016

“Christianity teaches that...suffering is meaningful. There is a purpose to it, and if faced rightly, it can drive us like a nail deep into the love of God and into more stability and spiritual power than you can imagine." Tim Keller, Walking with God through Pain & Suffering


Dear Friends,

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This is a picture of two men sitting in different sides of a boat that has been cut in half. The company that makes this boat―Boston Whaler―takes great pride that their boats are virtually unsinkable. Over the years, they have demonstrated this by having their boats sawed in half and still put to good use on the water after being sliced in two.

In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul says that Christians are unsinkable. 

That is correct: Christians are unsinkable.

This may sound like a bold or possibly naive statement by Paul. But, if you know anything about his life, you understand that it was filled with intense suffering and difficulty. In one of his letters to a congregation like ours, Paul said that he and his friends were once at a point where they “were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.”

Yet, this same Paul says that a Christian is someone who not only endures suffering but actually rejoices (literally boasts) in their suffering.

How is this possible?

In our culture, suffering is perceived as the worst thing imaginable. Therefore, we engineer our lives to make them as agreeable and as pleasure-filled as possible. So, to hear somebody from the Bible say that it is possible to not just run away from suffering but actually to rejoice in it seems like utter nonsense. 

But here is where Paul wants to expand our vision beyond the cramped confines of our present lives. He wants us to have a larger vision for our lives that has as its focal point our face-to-face reunion with God when Christ returns. On this day, Paul tells us, Christians will meet with God and not be put to shame. Instead, the Lord will receive us gladly and welcome us home. It is this perspective, and this perspective alone, that can adequately reframe our current lives and its attendant suffering.

This week: Rejoicing in Suffering, Romans 5:1-5

Liturgy is here. 

I hope to worship with you.

Warmly in Christ,

John

P.S. Don’t forget the Grace Kids open house this Sunday at 10:30 AM. Come and see how we are passing on the faith to the next generation of God’s people in our congregation.