ALVEY: Love must be shown by others to help pain and suffering

Published 8:10 pm Saturday, September 2, 2017

By Jack Alvey | Alvey is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

In the last weeks and months, I have become acutely aware of the outrageous pain and suffering of this world.

Between natural disasters and images of hatred and violence, it is hard to watch the news.

Words fail to comprehend the kind of pain and suffering that the world is experiencing. My initial instinct is to change the channel.
However, I am reminded that a part of my Christian duty is to be attentive to this pain and suffering.

In the gospels, Jesus tells his disciples that the Messiah must undergo pain and suffering and even death before rising again on the third day.
In response, Peter says, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.”

Like me, Peter wants to change the channel and be a part of a story with no pain and suffering.

Jesus goes on to tell the disciples that there is no other way.

He tells them that the way to life isn’t around the pain but through the pain.

Jesus says, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

The cross of Jesus Christ reminds us that God is both attentive and responsive to the outrageous pain and suffering of this world.

Even more, the cross reminds us that there are no words that can comprehend the pain and suffering of the world – only a God who responds to outrageous pain with an outrageous love on the cross of Jesus Christ can help us begin to comprehend hope during even the darkest of hours.

Now it is our turn to respond with an outrageous love – to take up our cross.

We who live beneath the cross of Jesus Christ know that humility and compassion and mercy are the only way forward in a world that is terribly broken.

We who live beneath the cross know that Charlottesville and Houston are not the only places where the cross of Jesus Christ is emerging today.

The cross of Jesus Christ emerges anywhere there is suffering and pain and hopelessness.

The cross of Jesus Christ emerges anywhere there is violence and hatred and injustice.

The cross of Jesus Christ emerges anywhere people are crying for help.

May we have the grace and courage to not only open ourselves up to the pain of the crosses emerging in this world but also the grace and courage to take up our crosses and follow Jesus into the storms of this life where incomprehensible suffering is transformed into unspeakable joys.