Tag Archives: pain and suffering

The Christ, Part 2

We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival. ~Winston Churchill

Christmas is a happy time- angels, children, gifts, singing. It’s peace, joy, hope, and love. Christmas is God’s graciousness and mercy. Fa la la and ringing bells. Sleigh rides, snowmen, and hot chocolate.

While shepherds kept their watching
Over silent flocks by night,
Behold throughout the heavens,
There shone a holy light:
Go, Tell It On The Mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go, Tell It On The Mountain
That Jesus Christ is born.

But Mark doesn’t have time for all that.

The first 15 verses of Mark are rapid fire. “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Isaiah predicts his coming, John says he’s coming, and then, BOOM, there he is!

Jesus comes down from Nazareth to be baptized. John is arrested, Jesus is tempted, and “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

What? No manger? No singing angels? No PRESENTS!?


Mark is writing to a group of Christians who understand persecution. They’re being rounded up, taken from their homes, and set on fire to light Nero’s garden at night. They are the Christmas lights.

For Mark’s readers, it’s important to know that Christ also suffered.

He lost his family. He lost his friends. He faced ridicule, hatred, and persecution. He suffered at the hands of men and of Satan. His suffering was mental, emotional, and physical.

Mark spends his book writing about this suffering savior, and then he ends it this way:

And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.


Jesus’s birth was announced by angels, and everyone came to see the miracle. His resurrection was also announced by angels, and people ran to hide.

As you celebrate Jesus’s birth this month, enjoy the glamour and gift-giving, the cookies and crafts, the parties and punch.

But don’t forget that Jesus also suffered so that one day we can enjoy the ultimate celebration. Be sure to tell the end of the story this Christmas, too.

I heard an old, old story,
How a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning,
Of His precious blood’s atoning,
Then I repented of my sins
And won the victory.

And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.  And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.  And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” Mark 15:37-39 ESV

Don’t Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

beagle-700879__180Beagles never do anything quietly. They howl, they whine, they bark persistently; quiet is not in their vocabulary. Even sleeping they moan and yip.

Yesterday about 5:00, Captain suddenly started yelling at us. It was the yell of “You stepped on my tail!”, but no one had been near him. I removed his collar, nothing there. I felt along his hind quarters, nothing. I rubbed his tummy, no again. Yet the yelling continued at sudden and unexpected moments.

I took Captain into my quiet room and tried to soothe him. After an hour or so he seemed calm and the pain gone. I went into the living room to visit with Matt and the dog followed, loudly proclaiming that he was still in pain.

In sudden bursts Captain would yell and rush at us. Matt, suffering a headache, loudly told Captain, “Stop yelling at me!” I did my best to comfort the dog, but as I told Matt, he wasn’t yelling AT us, he was yelling FOR us. He was in pain, afraid, and wanting comfort.

Not everyone asks for help in the same way. Some people, when in an uncomfortable or unfamiliar position, yell loudly and brutally, like our dog. Some people get quiet. Some people ask for comfort with their eyes, some with their mouths, and some with their actions.

But however they ask, comfort and understanding is what they desire. Take the time to listen to people. If they suddenly change their behavior, you can bet something is distressing them.

I was useless to Captain. I didn’t know what was wrong or what to do. But I stayed with him through the night, patting him, reassuring him of my presence. It certainly didn’t remove the pain, but it seemed to reassure him.

Is there someone in your life who needs your presence? You probably feel helpless and useless around them, but maybe what they need most of all is not solutions but the comforting knowledge of your concern.

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4


At Your Elbow

humanitarian-aid-939723__180According to World Vision, at the end of 2014 there were 38 million people in the world displaced by conflict and violence. That equals all of the people of London, New York City, and Beijing combined. It is beyond my comprehension. 90 percent of nations that are monitored find that citizens whose lives are disrupted by war and conflict remain displaced for up to a decade or more.

I was on my way to work thinking about a student who is having some difficulties in her life. Halfway down the road a car was stopped in my lane. That was when I noticed the funeral procession I was driving past. I stopped and waited respectfully for them to proceed.

And then I started wondering. How many people do I pass by who are hurting from some major conflict and I never notice because I am focused on my own struggles? How many people do I see, but not really? How many of my neighbors flounder in conflict and violence within their lives, perhaps for a decade or more, and I never take notice?

Some people’s pain is easy to see. Refugees make the news every night; their plight is openly broadcast to the world. But your child’s school teacher who is going through a divorce may never tell you. Your dentist who is struggling with the death of his wife will never mention it. The cashier at Food Lion will not tell you her lights are being turned off because her husband’s medical bills have wiped them out.

Are your eyes open to the people you meet? Or are you driving through your days with your mind only on your own problems? Stop and look up. You may be the refuge that someone is looking for.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:35-40