Going through it. We don’t want to, we avoid it, we try to insulate and isolate ourselves from suffering. We try to protect our kids from all danger and it permeates our own lives. In western Christianity there is not a theology of suffering. TV preachers, evangelists, and many successful ministries say we shouldn’t have to suffer. It is not the “American Christian” way.
Yet Peter reminds us that we will have painful trials. We will suffer. Paul says to “count it all joy.” I must admit that I don’t like it. I don’t want it. However, it is at the core of our faith. There must be a theology of suffering. Without it I am self absorbed. I am self centered. Without it I will not ever be able to become the man that God wants me to be. Through 17 plus years of urban ministry, I have seen all the suffering that I care to see. The recent economic downturn (for people in poverty it's more than a downturn, it is more than losing money in a 401K; as it may be for you too!) has brought a level of suffering that our nation hasn’t tasted economically for many years. However, this pales to the suffering that is going on in Haiti.
At UIM we are suffering through it financially too. We know and feel the pain that many of you are going through. However, with God it is not that we identify with people but that we do as Peter encourages, “So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” (I Peter 4:19) Through your pain, through your suffering, what way does your mirror face? Is it turned to you, your pain, your needs and your suffering so that people will never see God through it all? Or is it turned to God in faithful commitment to our faithful Creator so that we can continue to do good? Then people will see and know that there is a God who loves and cares. Which way does your mirror face?