“When we feel pain, suffer, die, let us firmly believe that it is not we, or we alone, but Christ and His Church who are in pain, suffering, dying with us.”
— Martin Luther (1483 – 1546)
HE has gone there before us. All His disciples have gone there before us, the only exception, the cursed Judas Iscariot. Many of the fathers and mothers of the early church went precisely the same way. There are saints and martyrs through the history of the Church who have wisely recanted nothing, going the same way. There are contemporaries of our time… and, if we’re blessed, us, ourselves… going the same way.
Pain, suffering, and dying make no sense and have no purpose if there’s nobody and no purpose of precedent that we’re following. But we have yet a Somebody and a precedent!
As we endure pain, suffering, and do our dying, we do have the company of Christ and His Church as our witness, Presence, and encouragement. These we do to hear the trumpet call in His Words… “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Acknowledging Christ and His Church — their witness, their Presence, their encouragement — doesn’t do much to alleviate our pain, suffering, and dying. It doesn’t seem that it helps one bit. We still must endure the pain as we would otherwise. We still have to suffer. And dying’s no different. But, the difference is, faith, in the tradition of Christ, of His disciples, the fathers and mothers, the saints and the martyrs, to every persecuted million, makes us courageous to do what only the grace of God is sufficient within us to do.
Faith that imbues courage, that catapults us to step each tremulous step, makes us victorious. Of which, Christ and His Church are glowing edifices.
To know Christ is to suffer with a Friend. Deny Christ and choose to suffer alone.
When good times fade to mere memory,
And frankly, just now, there’s nothing to see,
Recall Christ and His Church have been there before,
So, await, in faith, His knock at Hope’s door.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.