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Hope — Sharon Cummings

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read Hebrews 2:1-15

So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.

More thoughts for meditation

To be a Christian is to enter into suffering in a completely new way. Our suffering is now viewed through the lens of the resurrection: “the truth we have heard.” The writer of Hebrews is eager to get us to understand that we no longer have to live in the fear of death and so the suffering we endure is transformed from its former terrorizing state into a path to meaningful encounter with God.

A lot of our problems with suffering have more to do with our internal reactions to events/experiences rather than with the events/experiences themselves. The meaning I assign to an occurrence sometimes intensifies my suffering. If I think to myself that my friend doesn’t love me if she forgets my birthday, then I’ll suffer over the loss of love. I may even react in anger and push my friend away when she calls to apologize and tell me about what preoccupied her that day.  I might end the friendship because I’m hurt and miss the opportunity to repair it. This reaction from within me to the real event of my friend forgetting my birthday is far worse than my friend’s mistake.  My reaction is about the meaning I assign to my friend’s not calling me and is happening inside me.

That assignment of meaning has a lot to do with my own typical thoughts about others that have grown inside me over the years. But my friend has had different experiences and may think calling a few days after a birthday is just a small mistake that she expects I will easily forgive or that I might not have even noticed. If I am able to let myself notice my reaction which is more of a re-enactment of early despairs that had no relation to my friend, and wonder about why I am responding so deeply to this slight, I have the opportunity to suffer with “the truth I have heard” from Jesus in mind.  The suffering would then NOT be about having no one to love me, but about understanding the depth of my loneliness and appreciating how Jesus has come to suffer with me and has tasted all that death might mean for me, all that loneliness might bring to me. As a result, my suffering might help me discover that the loneliness I dread isn’t the end of my story.

In fact, I might find in working this out with my friend that I can relish the friendship more deeply if I let go of all the reactive meanings going on inside me and instead remember “the truth I’ve heard:” that I am hurt in the moment by a friend’s neglect, but that I have a love I can count on even through death.

This example is small. The suffering going on all over the world is not so small. But the truth is, no matter the depth of the pain, Christ has come to bear the full sting of death and so we are free to let go of our internal reactions, listen very carefully to our pain, remember the truth, and draw near to God even through our suffering.

Suggestions for action

Pray:  Today may I listen very carefully to the truth You have brought to me in Jesus. If I start to drift away, please turn me around to face Your love fully even when I suffer.

Resolve to listen carefully to the truth you’ve been told today. When you suffer, listen carefully. If you identify some pain you are carrying right now, try it right now.