The first passage today comes from the Book of Lamentations:
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul that seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man that he bear
the yoke in his youth.
28 Let him sit alone in silence
when he has laid it on him;
29 let him put his mouth in the dust—
there may yet be hope;
30 let him give his cheek to the smiter,
and be filled with insults.
31 For the Lord will not
cast off for ever,
32 but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
33 for he does not willingly afflict
or grieve the sons of men.
34 To crush under foot
all the prisoners of the earth,
35 to turn aside the right of a man
in the presence of the Most High,
36 to subvert a man in his cause,
the Lord does not approve.
One of the most important, and difficult, lessons that I have learned over the years is the importance, the necessity even, of suffering. It is a difficult lesson because it is something that runs completely counter to contemporary culture, which has become obsessed with happiness and comfort. If anything, modern life and culture has dedicated itself pretending that hardship doesn’t exist. Of course, it fails dismally at this- only the select few at the top can pretend to live this way. Everyone else suffers as a result of the misguided principles of society’s so-called elite.
Unfortunately, we have organized our culture and society in such a way that those who do suffer so don’t know how to use that suffering to advance their own righteousness. The result is ultimately wasted potential and what can only be labeled as pointless suffering. Perhaps that is what real tragedy is- pointless suffering. Because if we use our suffering to walk the path of righteousness and bring about the Kingdom on earth, then in truth it is only a temporary inconvenience. Such is the approach taken by Saint Paul in Philippians, which was another passage essential to my understanding of the truth:
8 Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith; 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
As Christians, we always need to take the long view of things. That doesn’t mean we become anxious or fret about the future, only that we are future oriented. What we do today must be with the future in mind, because eventually we will be judged on what we have done. This particular lesson- looking to the future but not becoming anxious about it, is one of those that is easy to learn but hard to put into effect. At least for me, anyways. I think I’ve finally made some progress there, but I have a long way to go still.