Suffering

Today is Saturday, May 6, 2017.

Quote of the Day

“If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?” ~ Steven Wright

Word of the Day

Milliner ~ a person who designs, makes, or sells hats for women.

Today is Join Hands Day. Not so much about shaking hands or holding hands, Join Hands Day is about unifying older and younger generations in our communities. Believe it or not, we can both learn from each other.

The last several days, I have run out of time in the mornings, and since I have started doing the devotional portion first, that means either quotes, words, and holidays, or personal thoughts get left out. Sometimes, both.

Not that there has been much going on in our relatively normal lives, anyway. We are getting closer to our sort of “family reunion” weekend, which is May 20-21, at my uncle’s house in east Texas. We are taking my mother to visit her twin brother for a weekend. It will be short, as we will drive out on Saturday morning and come back Sunday evening. Mama’s going to stay at uncle’s house, and we’ll stay at a hotel in Henderson. I’m hoping all of my cousins can make it, as well as some of their kids. Looking forward to a great time. Especially looking forward to NOT having to attend a funeral.

We have mailed a check for our house rental in Oregon! That trip is less than a month away, now, and we are also excited about this one. We are looking forward to some peace and quiet on the Pacific Northwest coast, as well as some road trips to nearby waterfalls and other scenery.

Tonight, we are having our regular Night of Worship, but it will be at a nearby church facility that has opted to share their building with us, at least for this one event. There is a possibility, I guess, that we might continue there throughout the summer months, as well. We shall see.

Baseball hasn’t been very exciting, so far. The Rangers are playing poorly, and have yet to crack the .500 mark. They are in and out of last place by a half game or so. The Red Sox are playing mediocre baseball, hovering around third place. As of today, they are only one game over .500.

Oh, and the reason this is late, today, is that my Fitbit Alta quit connecting to the app on my phone, and I wasted about an hour and a half trying to fix it. No success. So I guess I’ll be Fitbitless for a while.

Update. While I was chatting online with a Fitbit representative, the fool thing just suddenly started working. Technology. Sigh.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.
Psalm 29:2
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Psalm 63:1
O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old:
Psalm 44:1
Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
Psalm 82:4

(From Living the Message)

Today’s reading is “Where the Sufferer Is, God Is.”

“The biblical revelation neither explains nor eliminates suffering.” One result of this truth is a myriad of people (well-meaning people, even) making stuff up about suffering. That’s what we do, especially preachers. Not all of them, mind you. But there is a certain pride that tempts the preacher. Pride that makes him unable to ever say, “I don’t know.” So, when faced with a question that he doesn’t know, he makes up an answer. Then people listen to those made-up answers and begin to proclaim them as truth. This is where we get things like “God will never give you more than you can handle,” or, even worse, “God helps those who help themselves.” It’s where we get “All babies who die automatically go to heaven.” We don’t know that. We just don’t. But we pretend to, because it makes us feel better.

The same goes for suffering. In some camps, there is a prevalent idea that, if you’re suffering, you did something wrong. But, in the words of Eugene H. Peterson, “Scripture is not a lecture from God, pointing the finger at unfortunate sufferers and saying, ‘I told you so: here and here and here is where you went wrong; no you are paying for it.'” Scripture also does not provide us with a five-step easy solution to eliminate suffering from our lives. We don’t see a progression from “more to less suffering from Egyptian bondage to wilderness wandering, to kingless anarchy, to Assyrian siege, to Babylonian captivity, to Roman crucifixion, to Neronian/Domitian holocaust.” What Scripture does show us, though, is “God entering into the life of suffering humanity, accepting and sharing the suffering.”

“The suffering is there, and where the sufferer is, God is.”

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
Isaiah 53:4 (ESV)

But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.
Romans 5:8 (The Message)

Father, may we be faithful to your Word when we address issues in our lives. May we not work so hard to understand suffering, but more to understand that, in the midst of suffering, you are there, even if, and especially if, we do not understand it. Help us to not make up answers that we don’t have, but to rely on your Spirit for wisdom and understanding. Take away any pride from us that would cause us to rely on our own, feeble, wisdom. Instead, help us to seek your wisdom in all things. Help us to seek first your kingdom, above all else.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

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