From the Desktop of the Pastor – Week of the 2nd Sunday in Lent

Hi everyone,

I noticed something about myself yesterday. Well, it’s something that I probably always knew, but I guess I really embraced it more yesterday for some reason. Anyway, one of our kids loves to play video games. Actually, they all do like crazy. But this particular kid seems to aim a lot higher than their skill set allows them to go. This leads to a lot of frustration and eventually tears as they can’t seem do as well as they want.

And what I’ve noticed about myself is that this “suffering” that this kid feels makes me uncomfortable.

Maybe because I don’t like to see them like that. Or I’m happier when they are happy. Or maybe it goes deeper into my psyche that I won’t get into in this particular blog post.

So what do I normally do? I get frustrated that they are suffering for something as silly (in my mind) as a video game. I try to get them to stop crying by inadvertently projecting my discomfort onto them, which of course doesn’t help. I feel deep inside that all I want and can think about is how much they just need to stop. Stop crying. Stop playing games you’re not good at. Stop suffering.

Well, it wasn’t until I put aside those feelings and decided to understand this kid instead that they started to feel better. I remember playing video games as a kid to the point that I got really frustrated. So I get the emotions they were feeling. I get the pain. I especially get that suffering. And I remembered that when I went through that, I didn’t need to be told to stop feeling that way, but I just needed to have someone who understood. So I showed that kid that I understood and we started doing something else together instead.

And then my parenting level increased by about 500 points.

Here are the readings for next week:
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
Psalm 22:23-31
Romans 4:13-25
Mark 8:31-38

In my sermon today I talked about how life is suffering, and these texts seem to carry on that theme. Abram and Sarai were given a promise but getting to the point of the promise being realised was very difficult. And the gospel tells us of Jesus’ impending suffering on the cross. So it seems like the theme of suffering is just reiterated for next week.

But there seems to be a progression on how we face this suffering. Today I was talking about how we need to accept that it is true and use the strength from God to carry on. But in these texts that we get for next week, it sounds like we can take it a step further and embrace the suffering, in how Jesus says “take up your cross”.

I don’t think this is to say that suffering is ok or even ordained by God, but I think it means that we cannot let the inevitable suffering to stand in our way of seeing God’s presence in our lives, God’s promise of blessing, and God’s love freely shown to us all. This is what happened to Peter when he rebuked Jesus in telling them about his suffering and Jesus had to tell him to get behind and understand. This is what happened to Abram and Sarai when they decided to take God’s promise into their own hands and God had to explain again what this promise means. And this happens to me more often than not throughout my own life.

And it doesn’t sound easy to face and embrace our suffering like this. But I think it helps knowing that we aren’t alone. It helps knowing that this suffering doesn’t have the last word. It helps knowing that throughout whatever life can throw at us, we remain as God’s beloved and cherished children.

Thanks be to God! Have a great week, everyone!

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

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