Lately, I have been thinking about suffering. I haven’t been thinking about suffering because of anything overly dramatic in my own life but how we, as Americans in our confused culture, think about it.

As I have said many times I really dislike it when people do not take responsibility for their actions. It is one of my pet peeves. I am so tired of conversations of “not my fault”. And really, that is a lot of our current problems.   Similarly, is our view on suffering. When we hear that someone is struggling with an issue. We try the best we can to comfort. Somehow, we feel that they are such good people that this kind of thing shouldn’t happen to them. That is our American Christianity. God has told us that he will not give anymore than we can handle. Therefore, we should see that these times are opportunities to educate a few angels about His power and love.

I see all of the things that my mother and father-in-law do for Big Scott’s grandmother. She has Alzheimer’s disease. She doesn’t know that Big Scott is her grandson. She doesn’t know that Big Scott’s mom is her daughter. But she does know that this nice lady visits her a lot. Many people when they reach this stage with their parents put them in “the home” and wait. Not my in-laws, they go out and play the piano for all the residents and sing songs with them. Big Scott’s dad is even considering breaking out his accordion to play some polka next time. They have fun. Sometimes, they help with chapel service. They have made this difficult and stressful time an opportunity. It is an opportunity to share God’s love and what his Son did for all of us. Not only for the residents but also for the staff of nurses and aids.

Maybe all of this not understanding what a precious and wonderful gift that God has given us is because we don’t fully understand some of the Jewish traditions. We have not experienced watching our best animal having its throat slit and watching as it slowly bleeds to death and later burned as an offering to God. We have the opportunity to talk to God through his Son every day. In the Jewish tradition, a priest had the opportunity to discuss everything brought to his attention over the course of the year one time a year. Once a year! I don’t know about you but I have problems even writing the annual Christmas letter. I have to take notes a few times a year. How could a priest remember every concern over the course of the year?

Paul was suffering in jail but made the best of the opportunity and Stephan forgiving the ones who were stoning him are a few examples of early Christians showing the power of His love. I bet the way they lived out loud made other people wonder what they had to make them so different.

Early Christians didn’t have the security that we enjoy. They had concerns for their own personal safety but they understood the gift that was given to them through Jesus, our Savior. They had watched and participated in all the rituals of the old way. They were excited about the freedom that Jesus had provided for them.

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