April 21
The Christian answer to suffering
For reading & meditation: Matthew 26:36-46
"Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go!" (vv.45-46)

Yesterday we looked at some of the world's ineffectual answers to the problem of unmerited suffering. In them there are no wounds to answer our wounds, no death to answer our death. Their so-called answers remind me of a cartoon I once saw which depicted two toddlers in a children's boxing ring. Stripped for action, with nothing on but shorts and boxing gloves, they were ready for the fray. The attention of one of the youngsters was caught by two butterflies flitting just above his head and he stood gazing up at them, exposing himself to the blow which his opponent was about to land on his nose. Gazing at butterflies while in the midst of a conflict is a dangerous occupation. Any system of thought that takes your attention off the grim facts of life by calling attention to butterflies is doomed inevitably to produce pessimism as the blows begin to fall. What, then, is the Christian answer to this problem? First, we must realistically face the fact that life involves suffering. There is no escaping that fact; to deny it is a denial of reality. I have found from experience that the first thing many Christians do when caught up in a form of suffering is to deny its reality and say something like this: "I don't have any problems, for Jesus is the Great Insulator between me and everything that happens." It is not lack of faith to acknowledge a problem. You don't have to dwell upon it, but before you can deal with it, you must acknowledge it. Remember, you must first be willing to face reality before you can expect to overcome it.

O God, give me courage to face up to issues and not dodge them. Help me to be open and honest. Father, I look to You now to help me put this into daily practice. For Jesus' sake. Amen.

For further study:
1. What is the purpose of our affliction?
2. What has God promised?