Sunday, March 25, 2007

Offer it up

"Isn't Christ's work complete?"

Christ shares everything He has with us, including His suffering. We're not really adding to it on our own, but inasmuch as Christ is one man who suffered, and our works only have value in Him, so is our individual suffering worthwhile.

"This redemptive suffering angle is too weird; I can't buy it."

Yet you still suffer.

"Well, what's the point? Didn't He say on the cross, "It is finished?""

Christ's death was of infinite value, so why was He even scourged in the first place? Christ suffered for us. In Him, we also suffer for each other. As Christ offered Himself up, so we should offer up our own sufferings.

"I can't grok suffering for someone else. It's this trading off of grace 'earned' by one person suffering to another person who needs it more."

Why not? A parent suffers for the benefit of the child. God answers our prayers without physically intervening every time. God is also not limited by time or space in taking our suffering as prayer, and prayer is not limited to the heartfelt recitation (or improvisation) of words.

"Okay, I'm almost following you, but while I can understand how we would want to save our children from pain and hardship, I don't know how I could do it without even knowing why or whom it would be for. Like I said, it's weird."

Yes. On rare occasions a person is granted knowledge of the purpose towards which his suffering is to be directed. A parent, to belabor the analogy, wants good for the child, but can't often see what form the good will take. Will efforts to build the child's character be best manifested in being a volunteer at a charity, or in a job, or eventually as a parent and spouse? Will being frugal to save up for college enable the child to become a great writer, or a great scientist? The difference here is in degree, in level of abstraction, moreso than in kind.

If you're like most of us, you'll sometimes just get frustrated because you can't see the purpose suffering in silence and ignorance. All I can say then is, again, offer your frustration up, too.

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