Thursday, April 03, 2014

Saintly Suffering

At a pastor's retreat the last few days, I was reminded again how there is no track to maturity except through suffering. We wish it were not so but such wishes are dreams.

My friend, Tom, has been suffering with cancer for about 18 months. It has been a brutal trial. There is progress and hope but he is not out of the woods yet. Before this all began, he was already a tender and godly man but now he seems very close to Heaven, close to Jesus. The glorious thing is that the more he suffers and the closer he gets to Heaven, the more grounded he has become on Earth. This is the mark of a great saint, and Tom is one. His love for the brothers, for those suffering, for the weak, the lonely and the desperate is a testament that He has seen Jesus. I have learned much from this brother and pray the Lord will give him many more years grounded here as he continues to draw near to Christ in the heavenlies.

But we should note the manner in which the saintly become more like Jesus. They suffer like Jesus. Their suffering seems unjust. Certainly, they are not without guilt before the Lord but that is not what I mean. The sufferings of the saintly are rarely judgements or even chastisements for sin. Their suffering is too holy for that. They must suffer like Jesus, who, though He was innocent, it pleased the Father to bruise Him. This is why saintly sufferers take on a heavenly visage. Think of Stephen. Although Stephen went presently into the presence of the Lord, many others find it better that they remain with those on Earth, as Saint Paul told us. This link of saintly sufferers is God's kindness to us in grace. An enigma. Thank God.

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