Saturday, August 20, 2016

Pain and Suffering

There is hardly a more clear evidence of our fallen state then the pain and suffering we experience each and every day.  Everything from disease and death to lost friendships to the physical pain of aging as well as psychological illness and depression;  the pain evil people heap upon the weak and innocent as well as the pain we bring upon ourselves.

It is easy to point to Adam and blame him and his wife for the pain and suffering in the world today and although in doing so we would be right, it isn't the whole story.  Each and every one of us have actively participated in Adam's sin when we have chosen to ignore God's law and strike out on our own as soon as we are old enough to consciously decide to do so.

There are those who are too young to have participated in this sin but they often become victims of those who have.  Which makes the tragedy of sin in this fallen world all the more unbearable.

But today I read something that I found hopeful and life giving.  A monk, Matthew the Poor, wrote the following:
But Christ abolished sin, and reconciled and brought us to life.  In so doing He broke the fearful link that bound suffering to sin. For suffering is no longer a participation in the sin of Adam, but a participation in the love of Christ. ...If we are in Christ, no matter how much we suffer, and no matter how severe our pain, our suffering is in no way related to whether we deserve that pain.
This idea seems to fit much better with the biblical text than anything else I've heard.  It explains the "suffering with Christ" in Romans 8:17 as something more than simply being persecuted for being a Christian (although it obviously includes that too).  If you want to read more about suffering and following Christ I invite you to read the entire text here. The text starts out talking about fasting, another important and mostly forgotten practice. It is well worth the read.