A short video sharing a framework for understanding suffering. This framework has helped me understand the role of suffering in the life of the disciple of Jesus. The sound quality isn't perfect, but I'd love to hear your thoughts. What would you add to this framework? How have you been developing a theology of suffering?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
The book of Exodus begins with unimaginable hardship. Pharaoh, fearing the growing number of Hebrews in his kingdom, orders the execution of every newborn Hebrew boy.
Babies are torn from their mother's arms and tossed murderously into the Nile River.
And then Moses is born.
Like many others, his mother hides him away for as long as she can, hushing his cries, hoping beyond hope for a way through this holocaust of the newborns. The Bible doesn't say why she does it, but his mother builds a little basket, coats it with tar and then sends her daughter off to the river with baby Moses in his tiny ark.
I can imagine the scene. The sister comes to a bank along the river where the reeds have grown thick. She steps into the water, feet sinking in mud and begins pushing her way through the razor sharp stems. She fights to keep her balance as the stench of the river mud floats up around her. Finally she comes to a place where the reeds thin out. They've been cleared away so that the pharaoh's daughter can come down and bath. The sister sets the basket gently in the water where it floats, still hemmed in by the reeds but clearly visible to anyone who might come down to the water. She backs away, far enough not to be noticed yet still able to keep an eye on her brother.
Exodus 2:4 says, "His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him."
There she stands in the muck and mud, scratched by reeds, swatting flies and mosquitoes. She waits and she watches, hoping to see in the water the ripples of redemption. Exodus 2:4 is filled with expectation. Surely something will happen. Surely God will act.
And God does act. He saves Moses and sets the stage for the freeing of the Hebrew slaves.
Many of us find ourselves in the muck and mud of our present moment. We're battered and bruised by the Covid-19 pandemic. We look around and it seems the bad news grows daily. Some of us have experienced the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, the loss of a dream. Everyone it seems will experience some sort of loss.
While we need to mourn with those who mourn in this season, as followers of Christ we can also look expectantly for the ripples of redemption. Our God is a redeemer God. The next few months may not be easy. They may be the hardest times we have ever lived through, but if we look to the scriptures we see a pattern: God uses hard times to set the stage for unimaginable good.
Joseph is thrown into a pit, sold into slavery and tossed in a dungeon. All before God rescues him and uses him to save the whole world from famine.
Stephen is brutally murdered, stoned in the public square. And yet the very next moment, as his friends mourn his loss, he is with the risen Christ in heaven. As persecution breaks out, the good news of Jesus, the gospel, begins to spread all across the Roman world as fleeing Christians share about Jesus everywhere they go.
God is a redeemer.
Whether our current calamities are caused by God's discipline, Satan's attack or are merely the by products of a broken world, God can and will redeem it for our good and for His glory.
And so as we look to him, as we hope in Him, as we trust in Him, we will see the ripples of redemption.
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