“God is a God of bearing”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Give me strength to bear what you send, and do not let fear rule over me.
~Dietrich Bonhoeffer from ” Prayers in Times of Distress”
As I write this, some dear friends of ours are homeless; nearly all of their possessions have been lost or destroyed at the hands of an angry mob. In a matter of hours, their future became tenuous. Their losses aren’t a result of foolishness on their part; they were following God’s call, walking through doors that only God could have opened. They were seeking to be obedient, and it has cost them.
Our response to suffering says much about our motives for following Christ. In the gospels, Jesus gives some grim promises of suffering to those who follow him. And yet, just as surely as we are guaranteed suffering, we are exhorted to live in love, to actively reject self-seeking ways, anger and bitterness (I Corinthians 13). But this is hard, because suffering is nearly always linked to injustice, nearly always having to do with badly behaved people taking what is precious to you.
What is our fuel? What could possibly arm us to be gracious in the face of losing what the greater world sees as our rights? Wendell Berry writes that we are a cumulative of the love borne down to us from our parents and theirs before them. Or, to put it Biblically, “we love because he first loved us.” There is no other power for suffering than Christ’s love.
This is the life Christ lived for us. This is the mystery we are empowered to demonstrate, and by which the outside will always be baffled.
Thanks be to God! Even in the midst of our losses, we can be confident that He is utterly trustworthy. After all, who can doubt someone who offers his only son?