Thursday, June 01, 2006

suffering in the burbs?

In reading through Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship, I encountered a passage that deals with the necessity of suffering for the disciple who wants to identify with Jesus. Bonhoeffer says
Just as Christ is Christ only in virtue of his suffering and rejection, so the disciple is a disciple only in so far as he shares his Lord's sufering and rejection and crucifixion. (p. 87)

There is no need in my life or that of my family that goes unmet. In fact, it is possible for us to live in such a way where only the most extravagant wants remain out of our reach. I don't face persecution for my faith (in spite of what some would want us to believe), I lack for nothing, I am healthy and happy and more or less whole. So what does suffering look like in the 'burbs? After thinking about it for a couple of days, at least one answer punched me in the head today.
In talking with the parent of a child under the age of ten today I found out that the child had been placed on anti-depressants because they "tried to kill" one of their parents. Not lashed out or yelled at or beat on - tried to kill. This parent pushed the child to the point of rage where the only possibility in the mind of an elementary age child was to try and remove the parent from the planet. How do you respond to that?
Maybe part of suffering for those of us who stumble after Jesus is having our eyes opened to the world the way Jesus sees it - broken and bleeding, harrassed and helpless, deperately in need - and feeling the compulsion to carry the love and life of Jesus into that world. Maybe part of our suffering is to experience the suffering of others. To carry their burdens. To mourn with those who mourn. I know I am suffering right now as I think about this child and so many others of all ages that I know who are hurting and in need of the Kingdom to sweep into their lives.
There are a lot of places in my reality where I find it very hard to identify with Jesus, but tonight I "get" this one.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)

Suffering a little.


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