category: Advent

Advent Reflection: Day 9

Monday, December 6

Psalms 126; Isaiah 40:1–11; Romans 8:22–27

Looking around, what do we see? Could suffering be any more evident? The very issue of suffering makes us pursue a cure for it. In our attempts to find answers, we end up complicating the situation even further.

The United States made an attempt to end people’s suffering in Afghanistan by helping them build a democratic nation, which failed miserably. Recently troops were removed from Afghanistan, leaving behind millions of Afghans stranded and vulnerable. The Taliban took over most of the cities in a matter of days. One could hear the cries from within the people. Wouldn’t the question of suffering dominate their minds? When does this end?

The question of suffering has boggled us all at some point. People have spent billions on research to find answers to suffering. Israel went through a similar time in captivity. But God had a different plan for them. The rebellion against God, which led them to captivity, was finally pardoned. Isaiah 40 talks of the comfort for their suffering, comfort from God for all the difficulties they experienced while in exile. We long for the time when our suffering ends, for a time when the savior comes back for His people.

We won’t find a cure for suffering until the day Christ returns. Romans 8 explains that not just we, but “the whole creation groans and travails in pain together” (v.22). We suffer together until the time God reveals us as His children. Where suffering comes in strong, our faith in Christ rests us on solid ground. In Psalm 126 one hears, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy” (v.5). Our suffering in this world is momentary, for our God shall wipe those tears and fill us with joy and gladness. We desire comfort amid suffering, a ray of hope. We yearn for redemption. We wait for God to help us out of this misery.

Through these sufferings, we learn to trust more in Him for His ways; His plans are better than ours. In the  words of T.A. McMahon, “For the believer in Jesus, every trial of suffering is an opportunity to grow in the faith, to grow in our relationship with the Lord, and to see Him work in our lives in a uniquely personal way that demonstrates His compassion, His comfort, His tender mercies, His loving kindnesses, His grace, and His endless love. Only God knows what each of us needs to experience and learn in order to be ‘conformed to the image of his Son.’”

Paul in Romans 8 points us to an event, the glorious return of Christ, when the bondages of sin and suffering are finally released. We are redeemed, but Christ shall return and fully remove sin and suffering. We have a hope for renewal, a hope that looks to the past work and faithfulness of God and looks forward to the second Advent. We set our hearts on that day. Until that day, we wait.

David John
School of Divinity Student

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