One Another

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There is much suffering in this world.
suffering
There is much pain.
It is one thing that connects us all, a piece of what it means to be human.
Sometimes the sheer force of it all is enough to sink me.
And yet.
one another
Recently I was struck deeply by the idea that we could be a part of someone’s healing simply by being willing to bear their suffering through compassion.
In compassion, one may carry the sin and suffering of others in such a way that they may be restored to wholeness precisely because their sin and suffering are borne. ~ Andrew Purves
Compassion often involves great personal cost as we become involved with another.
Perhaps we could go so far as to say that compassion requires suffering.
Why not?
This kind of suffering, this level of involvement incurring great personal cost, is precisely the kind of suffering that Jesus bore on our behalf.
compassion
If our goal, our telos, is to become like Jesus, to live a life like His, than we should not be surprised that our lives should involve suffering, specifically compassionate suffering.
Jesus’s suffering is the method of our healing.
Jesus suffers with the world in order to heal it.
healing
What is surprising, the truth I want to ponder more, is the idea that our suffering, like His, could be the means by which another could be healed.
Perhaps this should not be startling.
If we are, as Paul writes to the Corinthians, to be the body of Christ, to be His hands and His feet,
if we are to care for one another as we would care for our own body,
perhaps we should instead expect to be able to do what He did.
one another
Perhaps we should be even more willing to take on the suffering of others, as Jesus did for us, because we know that in so doing, we will be given a part in restoring them to wholeness.
One person at a time, as we are lead by the Holy Spirit,
perhaps we can begin to heal the whole world.

Art credits: The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise by Benjamin West; The Palsied Man Let Down Through the Roof by James Tissot; The Three Crosses by Rembrandt; Pietà by Michelangelo

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Comments

  1. I’ve thought a lot about this topic. One of the more profound and mysterious verses of the New Testament is Colossians 1:24, “I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” I don’t begin to understand all that Paul is saying here, but I think a part of it is that, when we suffer on Christ’s behalf, in someway we participate in his redemptive work, in some small way we continue to carry out what Christ accomplished in an ultimate sense on the cross. That’s why the cross is not just a one-time event but also the pattern for all of Christ’s followers. Good stuff!

    • Yes! The idea that God allows us to be a part of the bringing about of the redemption of creation is both astonishing and mysterious. Does that mean that if more of us were to do this suffering work, this self-denying work, we could bring about His coming more quickly? Perhaps. I don’t know. But it’s an intriguing idea, and one that I think about as well. I’d love to hear more of your thoughts about it!

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