On Sunday, in my sermon, I described a recent encounter with a woman who told me that she had lost her faith when her son died of a “massive heart attack.” In the context of that conversation, all I could do was tell her that I was sorry for her loss. In the sermon I talked about how God’s response to our suffering is to embrace life. When we embrace life and enter with Jesus into the joy and suffering of life, the joys are sweeter and the burdens easier to bear.
We would all love to have God take away suffering, struggle and loss. Too often our religion promises that God will do just that. We want this “God of religion” to eliminate disease, poverty, and natural disasters. It’s pretty common to lose faith in that god. Jesus shows us a different way.
Through Jesus, God shows us that by embracing this life, with all the struggles, grief and loss, we encounter and connect with the sacredness of life. Rather than take away our suffering, God enters into that suffering with us. Even when we suffer great loss, as that woman did in the loss of her son, we can embrace life, love life, and reach out to others who have suffered or are suffering. That was the point of the sermon. God does not remove our suffering or change the world to eliminate suffering. Instead, in Jesus, God enters into this life in love.
The beautiful thing about embracing life rather than seeking to escape from life is that in the act of embracing life we discover joy, peace, and love. Even when we are suffering, we find new strength and relief when we reach out to others with compassion, care, generosity, forgiveness, and love. That’s what it means to embrace life. When we love this short, sorrowful, difficult life that God has given us, we discover the gift of happiness—true happiness that survives even when life is hard. That’s important, because, let’s face it, life is hard.
Yours in Christ,