Scripture: Mark 8:31-38
Focus Verse:Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. (Mark 8:31)
The first time I met Bongani was on a Tuesday afternoon. He sat squished between me and his mother in the backseat of a Chevy Spark. Driving home from the hospital, he looked with surprise and wonder at the animals we saw on the way – cows, goats, dogs –and each time he pointed and we erupted in giggles. His laughter was infectious.
In between giggles, he scarfed down a fish sandwich. My eyebrows raised and my eyes widened as I saw the IV needle still in his fragile left hand. His mother complained about it, but Bongani was so engrossed with the animals and the food that he did not mention it.
When I saw Bongani a few weeks later, his mother was very ill. We sat on the couches and she told us how she was worried about Bongani, especially after he asked . “Mommy, are you going to die?” I could only imagine her pain; her six year old son asked if she was going to die. Bongani's concern was not unfounded. Both he and his mother are living with HIV, but at that moment she looked much closer to death than life.
Jesus knows he will suffer. His ministry of mercy, healing, and peace results in his death on a cross. Suffering and death do not limit his ministry, however. The Holy Spirit works through Christ’s suffering for the forgiveness of our sin and life eternal embodied in his resurrection.
Like Bongani and his mom, we suffer. Like Peter, the mere thought of suffering distracts us from the hope and promise of resurrection. But we worship the Good Shepherd who suffers with us. We worship Alpha and Omega who transforms pain into hope and peace. We worship Christ crucified who overcame sin and death to grant us forgiveness of sin and life eternal.
Prayer: Suffering Servant, through your pain you worked for our healing. Comfort all who suffer now in mind, body, or spirit. Be our peace and our strength all of our days. Amen.
Jennifer M. Manis