Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
The very beginning of our reading from Jeremiah this week speaks of suffering. It’s severe suffering. Verse 15 speaks of persecution and reproach. Verse 17 speaks of indignation. Verse 18 compares the suffering to the pain of a wound which will not heal. As I read this passage I recall the care of a friend whose wife is ill and in severe pain. I recall the sorrow of another friend whose husband, once a rock of strength, had found himself incapable of even basic physical tasks. I recall times of dealing with chronic pain which seems to have no end.
In Jeremiah 15, the pain being endured is due to departure from God’s promises. I want to be very clear here. Your suffering is not necessarily a result of your sin and disobedience. That is one of many options. However, this fallen world is a place which has plenty of suffering regardless of our own spiritual state. The fact that you are suffering does not give me permission to confront you with sin which you may or may not have. The fact that I am suffering does not give you permission to confront me with sin which I may or may not have.
Now that the air is cleared in that matter, let’s notice what the suffering does accomplish. This is always positive. The result of the suffering is that the individual looks to God and his promises. The “first person” “I” in this passage partakes of God’s word and finds it good. The person looks to God for refuge and comfort. God makes this person strong, like a fortified city, a place of comfort for others. God shows himself to be the one who rescues all who look to him in hope.
Do we suffer? Yes, we do. Whether now or some other time, we will endure times of trouble. May that trouble remind us to look toward the God of all promises, who will rescue us and sustain us.
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