I don’t always know whether or not at 29 if I’ve suffered “enough” to write about suffering and the Gospel. At the recommendation of several people (including one of the board members at the school which voted to have me resign), I am reading some Henri Nouwen on my Kindle. In his book, Turning My Mourning Into Dancing, he writes:
Suffering invites us to place our hurts in larger hands. In Christ we see God suffering-for us. And calling us to share in God’s suffering love for a hurting world. The small and even overpowering pains of our lives are intimately connected with the greater pains of Christ. Our daily sorrows are anchored in a greater sorrow and therefore a larger hope. Absolutely nothing in our lives lies outside the realm of God’s judgment and mercy.
Our sorrows spring from the sorrow that is in the world because it’s messed up. But the hope the Gospel gives is far bigger than the sorrow we face, because Christ Himself, as conqueror and sacrifice, is bigger than the sorrow.
There is a lot of sorrow for me right now. I’ve spent a great deal of time today working on liturgies for various services at my church, writing arrangements, selecting confessions of sin and assurances of pardon, and getting a feel for the overall scope of the services. But I want to be at school with the kids.
God will judge what has been done. God will also show mercy in what has been done. This isn’t just Nouwen’s conclusion; it’s the conclusion which Paul saw at the end of his life when he wrote that “there is in store for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge will award” and which John longs for at the end of his Revelation when he prays, “Come, Lord Jesus.”