Nobody enjoys suffering, but we all suffer. Nobody wants to see their loved ones sick in the hospital, but at some point, we all have the experience. Nobody wakes up in the morning and asks, “How shall I suffer today?” It isn’t a normal part of our consciousness to desire suffering, but it is part of our normal experience. As a priest I am blessed to sit side-by-side many who suffer. I have learned that suffering comes in all shapes and sizes. I have also learned that it cannot be altogether avoided. It is a part of life.
It is this common suffering that I would invite you to consider today. In today’ Epistle Reading (you can read the entire passage below) we hear, “Resist him [the devil], first in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world.” We are urged by Saint Peter to resist the devil and his antics to distract us from our faith in God. The image of the devil prowling around like a lion is real. I have seen him pass up no opportunity in suffering to temp believers to doubt that God loves them.
Our suffering on earth is temporary, no matter how long it seems. All earthly suffering will eventually come to an end, and at that moment we will depend upon our faith in Christ Who, “himself restore, establish and strengthen” us. Have faith my brothers and sisters in your suffering today remembering your brothers and sisters who are also suffering throughout the world. TOGETHER, God will heal and restore each of us into His Kingdom. God has already won the war. We only have to keep fighting along His side to reach His victory!
BRETHREN, humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you. Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, first in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish and strengthen you. To him be the dominion for ever and ever. Amen. By Silvanos, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God; stand fast in it. She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark. Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you that are in Christ. – First Peter 5.6-14