25th September 2021
SUFFERING AND HOPE
Zech 2:5-9, 14-15a
Jeremiah 31:10, 11-12ab, 13
“Sing and rejoice, O Jerusalem, for I will come and dwell in your midst, says the Lord” (Zech 2:11). These words of the Prophet Zechariah are worth holding on to. They are words of hope and encouragement spoken at a time of fear and despair. In the midst of life’s challenges, it is easy for us to be overcome by fear not by faith.
The two are completely in opposition in our Christian life. Fear is about expecting the worst to happen based on one’s reasoning about the current situation. But Faith is expecting the best outcome despite one’s current situation.
Zechariah saw hope beyond the suffering, exile of the sons of Israel (Zech 3:3). He dreamt of a better future and
of such peace for Jerusalem that no walls are needed, with the glory of the Lord at its centre.
Likewise, Jesus was preparing himself and his disciples for hard times ahead, when he would be handed over to his enemies. The disciples failed to understand this because they were unwilling to hear it, they would not ask about it (Lk 9:45). But he warned them again as they approached Jerusalem. Hope for resurrection must also face the stern reality of death.
The same is true in our daily lives. When we face the mystery of Jesus’ sufferings, and when we face the reality of suffering in our own lives or the lives of those we love, we can often be confused at first. It takes a gift from the Holy Spirit to open our minds to understand. Suffering is most often inevitable. We all endure it.
And if we do not allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, suffering will lead us to confusion and despair. But if we allow the Holy Spirit to open our minds, we will begin to understand how God can work in us through our sufferings just as He brought salvation to the world through the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ.
We read in Genesis 1:31: "God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good." But everything is certainly not "very good" today. What happened to change the situation? Why did God permit evil to get a start in the world and develop to the extent
that it has?
Everyone has experienced some level of suffering: death of a family member or friend, getting sick, poverty or being persecuted for their faith and so on. Suffering is something that many of us are familiar with. People often wonder why we suffer. If God is a loving God, why would He allow anyone to suffer? Why does God allow suffering to happen?
Of course, suffering in itself is not good at all, it is bad, and bad things are always connected to evil. Evil thing cannot be connected to God who is so Good and so Perfect. God cannot be the source of evil. But since he is so Loving, he permits evil things to happen. God has permitted man to have a temporary experience with suffering, so that greater good may come out of it.
For instance the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus Christ which was painful, humiliating experience and leads to his death but it brings Salvation to all humankind. Victory and Salvation came out of Jesus Suffering. He also allows suffering to happen so that we may learn from it and we may trust in Him more and more. By enduring our daily suffering, with trust in God, we may follow the pattern of Jesus’ life that leads to our own salvation.
As we encounter suffering, let us think about how it pushes us closer to God.
Suffering creates a dependency on the Lord that is not always there when everything is going well. Therefore, let us not lose faith and hope when we experience sufferings but let us present it to Jesus who has experienced it up to the extreme so that we may be able to partake to the Salvific cross of Christ, our victory.