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Lent 4: Entering into the Suffering of Others

Lent Message Series: Two Years Later: Faith, Fasting, Feasting in the Midst of Fear

Lent 4: Entering Into the Suffering of Others
Eph 3, Rom 8

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we have been reflecting on the past two years of COVID pandemic time, many emotions are being stirred in us.  Everything from ‘let’s move forward’ to ‘this is the 1st time I’ve talked about my losses.’  In revisiting three messages from the early stages of the pandemic, (100 messages ago), “Faith and Action in the Midst of COVID19”, “God’s Word Arrives Right on Time”, and “Entering into the Suffering of Others”, our hearts are stirred in significant ways.  We have affirmed that God is our ever present help in trouble… God is our strength and salvation, we need not fear.  

God is our strength and salvation, we need not fear.

Last week we scratched the surface of our losses and fears in giving some words to the sufferings we personally and collectively have experienced.  And affirmed, there’s a time for everything, God is in the everything and with us in the everything.  Suffering sets eternity on our hearts… turns our eyes heavenward… everything God does endures forever… the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…  And after two weeks of reflecting, a looking back in order to look forward, some may be thinking and feeling, “When can we get back to Paul?”  Soon… soon… very soon… next week! 

The stages of grief are complex – disbelief and shock, denial, anger, guilt and pain, bargaining, depression, acceptance.  I’m observing that the stage each of us is in varies from individual to individual, people group to people group.  Where are you on the journey of grief in the losses of COVID19 (past or present) and your fears (past or present)?  Moving through it?  Skipped a step?  Currently in  multiple steps at the same time?  Working through grief is far from smooth… It’s a journey of twists and turns.  But God promises us, his grace is sufficient.    

As we take one more week to look back, in order to look forward, at these three themes from 100 messages ago, we focus on an essential call of God on our lives for self-human flourishing and the flourishing of those around us, entering into the suffering of others.  Sounds counter intuitive and definitely counter cultural.  Because it is.  Perhaps, our bandwidth doesn’t seem big enough, our emotional tank full enough, nor our spiritual strength deep enough, to enter into more suffering, that of others.  COVID time has caused, led to, much sadness, lethargy, apathy, and the like.  It’s another loss experienced in our COVID time together.  

As we take one more week in this 3 week series, hang in there – with me, with one another, as we explore the deep mystery of our salvation in Jesus Christ.  Who draws near to our deepest sufferings and our most desired needs, becoming God with us in our suffering. And then calls us to do the same for others.