Scores killed in Italian earthquake! Afghanistan war re-escalating! Police officers killed in Dallas ambush! Are these “signs of the times”? Is the Second Coming imminent? One famous theologian said we should read the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other (as history unfolds we can see prophecies fulfilled in events reported in our newspapers).
We DO believe that Jesus is coming again, and he himself gave us signs to watch for. In the King James version of Luke 19:13, the master gave each of his servants a certain amount of money and said, “Occupy till I come” (meaning, “Put this money to work until I get back from my trip”). Jesus spoke of himself as our Master, who commands us to “put this to work” (meaning, “use what I’ve given you until I come back”).
We know this; perhaps one of the hardest things we do is to obey this command, to use what he’s given us, when we are suffering.
We are surrounded with messages that insist that we avoid suffering, relieve suffering, look for the pill or treatment or therapy that will help us feel good. Yet there are some kinds of suffering that won’t yield to pill, treatment or therapy. In those times, it is easy to excuse our own bad behavior, to make allowance for our poor attitudes, to focus on “me and my suffering” more than to focus on the Jesus who calls us to patiently endure what needs to be endured.
There are no easy answers to suffering, especially the question “Why?” In coming weeks we’ll listen to an “expert” in suffering, and find what his experience can teach us.