Lent | 3.22.12

Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalm 51:1-12 or Psalm 119:9-16
Hebrews 5:5-10
John 12:20-33

During the season of lent, and well into Holy Week, we are invited to remember the Suffering of the world—loneliness, hunger, illness, abuse. Some of this pain results from things we do to each other, some from things we do to ourselves, and some from sources we will never understand. Indeed, the breadth and depth of suffering in the world present an enduring mystery to all people of faith. In a universe created and sustained by a loving God, why do so many people hurt so much?

Today’s scripture lessons do not answer that question, but they offer comfort and hope to those who suffer. First, we learn that we do not suffer alone. In Hebrews 5:7-8, and in Jesus’ own words in John 12:27, we see that Christ was deeply troubled by the suffering he endured during his life on Earth. Therefore, we can take comfort in the fact that God truly understands the pain that we often feel. Indeed, I believe that when any one of God’s children is suffering, God suffers with him or her. In times of deep sorrow, I often imagine God holding my hand, sharing my tears of grief, mourning with me the pain of our imperfect world.

There is hope: redemption is coming! We can pray to God with the faith of David in Psalm 51 to be cleansed and made whole. Further, Christians all around the world anticipate together the coming of the Kingdom of God, when all suffering will cease and all will live in right relationship to one another and to God. Today’s passage in Jeremiah paints an inviting picture of this Kingdom, a time when no one will need to be taught to love God and each other, for the law of God will be written on all our hearts.

When you find yourself, or a brother or sister, walking in one of the dark valleys of life, remember that Christ walks with you and have faith that the journey will end with wholeness and peace.

As a closing prayer, I offer two stanzas from the hymn “O Christ, the Healer,” by Fred Pratt Green:

O Christ, the healer, we have come
to pray for health, to plead for friends.
How can we fail to be restored,
when reached by love that never ends?
Grant that we all, made one in faith,
in your community may find
the wholeness that, enriching us,
shall reach the whole of humankind.

Andy Miller
Associate Professor, Mathematics and Computer Science

You can download the full Lent and Holy Week Devotional Guide at:http://www.belmont.edu/religion/files/lent-devotional-2012-final.pdf

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