Suffering in God’s perspective

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014


THIS Sunday’s gospel (Matthew 16:21-27) speaks of the reality of the cross in a Christian’s life. Jesus told his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly at the hands of the elders, chief priests and scribes, be killed, and on the third day rise again.

This statement was something that his friends did not find easy to accept. They were living closely with Jesus in the past three years. They saw the great miracles he performed--- how he gave sight to the blind, gave hearing to the deaf, made the mute speak, made the lame walk, cleansed lepers and cured every kind of disease, illness and infirmity. They even saw him restore life to the dead and walk over the waters. They heard him teach with authority, denounce evil and proclaim the reign of the kingdom of God. In their eyes he must be the Son of God, the Messiah who will save them from bondage.

To be with him in glory and power, yes! But to hear him say he will suffer and be killed, no! Thus, the human spirit in Peter rebuking Jesus, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.”

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Many times we are like Peter. In good times we celebrate God’s power and abundance. We expect, even demand from God, a life that is always comfortable---a perpetual bed of roses with no pain, no suffering, no sadness; only happiness, joy and success. And so when problems come, we question God. “Shouldn’t he be our perpetual shield from the storms of life?,” we think.

But see how Jesus responded to Peter’s rebuke. He said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block for me, for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” He added, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?”

Yes, God takes care of our temporal needs here on earth. After all, isn’t he a good Father who loves his children? Yet God always looks at the highest good. His perspective is not only on the temporal but on the eternal.

In his abounding love for man, God our Father decided to let his only begotten Son Jesus endure the hardship of the cross, that he may take the punishment due us for the forgiveness of our sins. He let the innocent blood of our Lord be shed on that cross to cleanse us, the guilty ones, of our filth. For a short while he had to suffer, but not in vain, for after his suffering and death was his glorious resurrection--a pattern for all who die in grace, believing him as the only way to the Father.

May we be comforted by this thought. To God’s children, sufferings are temporary. We may not always know the exact reason for each suffering, but our Father in heaven who is full of wisdom knows everything. He will surely do what is best for us, not in the short run as our human eyes see it, but in the long run.

The conclusion of every battle we fight is set even before the battle begins. In the end, victory will be ours in the name of Jesus.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 28, 2014.

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