Wise Words on Wednesday: Suffering is love


“Always remember to love your neighbour; always prefer the one who tries your patience, who test your virtue, because with her you can always merit: suffering is Love; the Law is Love”

– Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified (“The Little Arab”).

Christian Copycat

In Bible Study last week we just finished up our study of St. Paul’s first epistle to the Thessalonians. During our time together, it struck me how many times the subject of “imitation” is raised in the letter. In this post I’d like to take a brief survey of these references.

Likeness in Jesus Alone?

The first example of imitation and mimicry appears in the very first chapter of the epistle:

And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit… – 1 Thessalonians 1:6

This is typically the verse that I reach for when speaking with Christians who object to the Catholic devotion to Saints, and who tell me that “The only person we need to imitate is Jesus”. Clearly, this wasn’t the opinion of St. Paul, who speaks proudly of how his fledgling congregation imitates, not only Lord, but also the senders of this letter (Paul, Timothy and Silas).

In that first chapter Paul describes himself as a nursing mother and a loving father:

But we were gentle… among you, like a nurse taking care of her children… for you know how, like a father with his children – 1 1 Thessalonians 2:7,11

Given these loving parental terms, it’s hardly surprising that the Thessalonians began to imitate the evangelists.


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Music Monday: Blessings

This week’s Music Monday entry is “Blessings” from Laura Story, a profound song which attempts to answer, in part, the hardest question of the Christian life: why does God allow suffering?

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops,
What if Your healing comes through tears?

And what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?
What if my greatest disappointments
or the aching of this life is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy?
And what if trials of this life, the rain, the storms, the hardest nights are Your mercies in disguise?

Audrey Assad Day!

I have the day off work today and I’m off to see Audrey Assad in concert! Feel free to enjoy this interview I found online:

What should I say?

The other day a friend of mine sent me a text message saying her coworker was mourning. It was the anniversary of her husband’s death in Afghanistan. Her coworker was asking the question: “Why would God let this happen?”. My friend asked “What should I say?”Here’s the text message I wrote in reply:

I would say something like “I could talk about some of the different reasons why bad things happen to good people (fallen world, free will, sinful man, God’s plan etc.), but the truth is I don’t know… None of us fully comprehends why terrible things like this happen.

What I do know is that God is the expert at drawing good out of bad, bringing healing out of pain. When Jesus hung on the cross it looked to the world like defeat, but out of the cross came victory over death so Jesus endured it for love of the world.

Your husband, no doubt,  joined the military because he thought that it was the right thing to do, to protect the country and people he loved. Jesus did the same.

I can’t explain specifically WHY your husband died, but I CAN say that, if Jesus’ death shows us anything, it’s that suffering is not meaningless and that great acts of love and sacrifice can change the world”

When we encounter someone who is suffering, there is always the temptation to talk about big theological concepts of God’s will, His sovereignty and the fallen nature of humanity. However, in my experience, when people are suffering, this kind of talk is neither helpful nor comforting. We can only point them to the Cross. Apart from the Cross, suffering has no meaning or purpose.

Even then, words are often ineffective. Actions speak much louder. When someone is suffering and I don’t know what to say, there’s a temptation to just avoid that person since I can’t “do” anything. We must fight that temptation! Sometimes all I really need to do is just show up. Be there for my friend. Listen to her. Cry with her. Pray with her. If that person is English, make a cup of tea :-)

The presence of a friend during a time of suffering speaks much more loudly of the love of God than any words ever could. Love them like Jesus.

Mark Hall, Casting Crowns

Suffering – Part 4: Attitude (Continued)

Continuing from yesterday, what attitudes should we take when enduring times of trial?


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Suffering – Part 3: Attitude

Having established that suffering is an inevitable part of life and that it can be used both for our transformation and the glory of God, we now consider the attitude we should adopt when going through times of trial and temptation….


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