We can use a little hope
Mother Teresa once said, “Your sufferings are the kisses of Jesus.” If this is true, then I believe that many of us would be hesitant about getting kisses from Jesus. It is part of our human nature to run away from suffering.
What exactly is suffering? This may be a discussion like the one our country had a few years ago about water boarding. Torture or suffering as defined by one person may be very different than torture or suffering as defined by another person. What we do know is that sometimes we hurt; physically, mentally, emotionally or even spiritually. I would define all types of hurt as suffering.
We know that suffering is part of life, but you might be asking the questions: Why does there have to be suffering at all? If God is good, then why does He not remove all suffering? The bible teaches us that God is good, He is in control of all things, and that He is committed to our good. How can God be committed to our good if He allows us to suffer?
An analogous story may help us understand that God is committed to our good but can still allow us to suffer. I love my daughter, Charla, and am committed to her good. When Mary, Josh, and I went back to the seminary in St. Louis we left our eighteen year old dog Shelly with Charla in Sacramento. Charla raised Shelly and had grown to love her very much. One day Charla informed me that Shelly was very ill with cancer. The vet predicted that she did not have very long to live. Shelly was suffering and therefore, Charla was suffering because she was not ready to let go of her companion. I could have alleviated there suffering by flying back to Sacramento to have Shelly put to sleep, but I knew that Charla needed to work through the death of Shelly in her own time. Through this, Charla learned about suffering and how to deal with suffering on her own.
There are many stories through life such as this one. God will allow us to suffer so that we may learn about life on earth and prepare us for life in Heaven. We seem to learn more through suffering in this life than through the good times. When Mother Teresa talked about our suffering being the kisses of Jesus, I believe she was speaking in reference to the Bible as St. Paul writes:
“…we rejoice in our suffering, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5, ESV)
Bring on those kisses of Jesus! No matter how difficult the situation may be, the promise of God, through Paul’s writing is that hope will be produced in us. All of us can use a little hope right now.
Pastor Jim Beilstein of Trinity Lutheran Church is a member of Carson Valley Ministers’ Association.