New Testament: 2 Cor 1:1-7
Old Testament: Lam 1:1-2,6-12
Gospel: Mark 11:12-25
Psalms: 51:1-18 (19-20), 69:1-23
When Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians and spoke about sharing abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, he was speaking not only about the suffering of Jesus on the Cross for our redemption, but also about the suffering that early Christians were experiencing as they proclaimed their belief in Jesus as our Savior. Indeed, their persecution was great. By comparison, our lives as Christians seem far easier. Yet, our lives are not without suffering. We see it every day as we look at the people around us, people who are having tough times.
Paul tells us that we are comforted in our sufferings so that we can comfort others. One reason I am so proud to be a part of Saint Matthew’s is that as a community we are so willing to reach out to those who are suffering. We recognize that God blesses us with much and comforts us in our troubles, and we in turn reach out to help and comfort those in need. While this is noticeable in many of our outreach projects, I see it most profoundly on our mission trips.
On mission trips I see young children receive attention, encourage ment, and validation; homeless people share their stories and receive prayer as well as badly needed supplies; homes built and repairs made; schools built; toys, books, and games given; food prepared and served to feed the hungry; clothes offered for those in need; physical jobs done for those who can no longer do the work themselves; and people being comforted in their grief through word, song, and prayer. Most importantly, I see those who are suffering not use their suffering as an excuse to turn FROM God, but as a reason to turn TO God.
My prayer for all of us at Saint Matthew’s is not only that we find comfort in our sufferings, but that in our lowest moments, hardest times, or loneliest day, we may turn TO God, not FROM him.