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Suffering? Growthful, Forming and Transforming.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, July 25, 2015

Romans 5-3,4 word cloud

Suffering? Growthful, Forming and Transforming.

Long day on the road, coming back from the New Wilmington Mission Conference. As I turned to the chapter for the day today, I reflected on the past week. The topic for today is Suffering. Suffering for the sake of Christ, as well as the mystery of suffering.

At the mission conference, we prayed for the persecuted church. We prayed for different areas on different days. My thoughts went to them, as well as my heart, no matter where. Nigeria, Egypt, Central Asia, Vietnam. These were just a few of the places we prayed for. We prayed for the churches, the individual believers, the governments ruling over the countries, and so much more. God, please be with them all.

This modern psalm moved me so profoundly. However, I was struck by one verse in particular. The verse is taken from John 9 and 1 Peter 3. “Let me never believe that my suffering is Your punishment for sin,/since doing what is right can lead to suffering too.” [1]

Doing what is right? Yes, that can lead to pain and suffering. What about Romans 5:3b-4? Paul says, as plain as day, “we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

It breaks my heart—again—to hear people saying, straight out, “God is punishing me for my sins.” Sure, if someone breaks the law, they deserve the punishment meted out by the law. But there is grace. Mercy. Abundant love. Whatever is going on in people’s lives, whether it’s on the inside or the outside, whether it’s pain-filled death or painful health situation; even when pain comes about through machinations and manipulations. God loves me. God loves you.

God loves the whole world. What part of “whole world” do you not understand? God, help me to come alongside of persons who are suffering. Dear God, help me to listen. Thank You, Amen.

[1] Praying the New Testament as Psalms, Desmond O’Donnell, OMI, and Maureen Mohen, RSM, (United States of America: ACTA Publications, 2002.), 185.

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