This morning at 11am a friend of mine, who I play on a worship team with--named Scott, died from swelling of the brain. About a week ago Scott had a series of four strokes--two minor and two severe; he was admitted to the hospital and given a very slim chance of survival. Thankfully, he passed away peacefully this morning in the presence of his wife and our pastor, and he was fully prepared to rest in the Lord's arms.
In light of this unfortunate situation I feel the need to blog about suffering. I don't want to talk about why bad things happen; I don't want to talk about where God is in our suffering; I want to talk about where "we," i.e., the Church, are in the suffering of others.
First, we share in the suffering of Christ. We, as the Church, share in the greatest act of suffering, Christ' death, and in doing so we also share in the greatest comfort (2 Cor. 1). What does this mean? This means that we share in Christ' suffering communally. Together we share in the suffering of Christ and together we share in the comfort of Christ.
Second, because we share in the comfort and suffering of Christ, we are able to share in the suffering of others and to offer comfort to those in affliction. I truly believe that suffering is a communal event. We are meant to share in the suffering of others as we share in the suffering of Christ. There is something extremely powerful about suffering together as the body of Christ, and in doing so, offering the comfort of Christ to one another. It is my hope that as the body of Christ, we no longer stand by and let those who are afflicted suffer alone, for we cannot truly comfort others unless we suffer with them. So, without suffering we can offer no comfort; it is by our participation in the suffering of Christ that we receive comfort and communicate it to others.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you lshare in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort." 2 Corinthians 1:1-7