Thoughts from Lauds, July 26

From 2 Corinthians 7

“To suffer in God’s way means changing for the better and leaves no regrets, but to suffer as the world knows suffering brings death.”

In this passage Paul is rejoicing that the Corinthians have turned from the worldly ways of sin against which he admonished them in his previous letter. But, beyond the particular details of this letter, and this church in this particular point in time, Paul is speaking to us about how we encounter suffering in the world, and in our daily lives.

Paul himself has suffered greatly, and he wishes to remind the Corinthians human suffering is a crucible that will either refine or crush us — depending on how we interact with and respond to it.

In every bit of suffering, we have this essential choice: Look to God in humility and love, and draw closer to Her; or focus on this world in pride, anger, sadness and resentment. The first is the path of eternal life; the second is the path mired by death and the weight of this world.

None of this is to say we will suffer less, or feel it less in this life. But when we sanctify our suffering, when we focus it in love and humility, we become changed for the better — we become a living stone in the Kingdom of God.

Let us pray. Heavenly Father, give us strength today to undertake suffering with humility. Holy Spirit, fill us to overflowing with the courage of selfless love. Lord Christ, help us to take up our cross and make it into a beautiful sacrifice for God’s children and God’s Kingdom, as you did at Calvary. Amen.

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