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Posts Tagged ‘suffering’


1 Peter 5: At the Right Timetime-widescreen-high-definition-wallpaper-for-desktop-background-download-free

Monday, May 9, 2022

Yesterday we considered the ancient words of the timeless covenant we share with God. Today we consider the words of Peter, a pastor who knows both this covenant and God’s people well.

All of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for God has had it with the proud, but takes delight in just plain people . . .

As we move through the coming hours, as we strive to be just plain, let us remove all judgment and anxiety from our thoughts.

Be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; God will promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; God is most careful with you . . .

As we move though the coming days, as we hope to put away airs and place ourselves in God’s strong hand, let us remove all recrimination and revenge from our actions.

Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up . . .

devil is a lionAs we move though the coming weeks, as we remember to keep a cool head when all around us seem to be losing theirs, let us work at remaining always in Christ.

You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world . . .

As we move though the coming months, as we work to remain always one in the Spirit, let us remind one another that we are not alone.

So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. 

As we move though the coming year, as we struggle to put our suffering in its proper place and proportion, let us unite with neighbors and enemies and remember that God will move us forward . . . in God’s best and most promising time.


These verses are from THE MESSAGE version of Scripture. Use the scripture link above to compare these verses with other versions and discover God’s intimate message of continued Easter joy. 

Images from: http://homes-kid.com/clocks-wallpaper.html and http://biblia.com/bible/esv/1%20Peter%205.8

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Habakkuk 2:3-4: The Delayimpatienceordivineanticipationb1

First Sunday in Lent, March 6, 2022

In this Lenten season, we witness to the presence of Christ in our daily routine. In this time of introspection, we welcome the Spirit into the temple of our hearts. In this time of healing and re-making, we thank God for the gifts of grace and mercy and patience. In this time of transformation, we come to understand the essence of our Lenten delay.

If it delays, wait for it . . .

Like small children, we want all our woes and anxieties resolved within seconds of their borning; like small children we must learn that waiting in joyful anticipation brings the gift of wisdom.

It will surely come . . .

Like energetic teenagers, we easily slip into the thinking that the multiverse holds us at its center; like energetic teenagers we reluctantly admit that our way is not always God’s way.

It will not be late . . .

Like impatient adults, we ask the world to move at our singular command; like impatient adults we come to see that the common good is more valuable in God’s eyes than our individual desire.

The rash one has no integrity . . .

In our Lenten journey we come to understand – if we are open – that God is present in misery just as in joy.

But the just one, because of faith, will live . . .

In our Lenten passage we come to know – if we are open – that God’s delay is part of God’s plan.

As we move through this second full week of Lent, let us take all of our impatience and anxiety, all of our anger and frustration to the one who mends and heals all wounds. And let us – like Jesus – make a willing sacrifice of our waiting as we anticipate in joyful hope God’s fulfillment of our great delay.


Image from: http://vividlife.me/ultimate/6328/impatience-or-divine-anticipation/

Enter the word Habakkuk into the blog search bar to explore other reflections on the wisdom brought to us through the words of this prophet.

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Saturday, January 29, 2015

Daniel 12:6

How Long?

How long shall it be to the end of these appalling things?

Exodus 10:3: Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, that they may serve me’.”

Exodus 10:7: Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not realize that Egypt is destroyed?”

Exodus 16:28: Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep my commandments and my instructions?”

Numbers 14:11: The Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn me? And how long will they not believe in me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst?”

Joshua asks the men of Israel how long they will delay in moving into the Promised Land. (Joshua 18:3)

The priest Eli asks the barren Hannah how long she continue with her drunken babbling (1 Samuel 1:14) and the Lord asks Samuel how long he will grieve over the loss of Saul as king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:1).

In 1 Kings 18:21 Elijah asks the people how long their will vacillate between the Living God Yahweh and the false gods of the Baals.

Job’s companion, Bildad, asks Job how long he will refuse to acknowledge his sin – which he, in fact, did not commit (Job 8:2). He asks how long Job will put off speaking truth (Job 18:2). To this, Job replies: How long will you torment me and crush me with lies? (Job 19:1)

In these Old Testament verses we read the words we ourselves use when we are overwhelmed. We hear the human and divine plea for understanding; and we feel the urgent desire for resolution in all that seems precarious and unjust. Let us gather our moments of plight and petition, and bring them to the one who holds the answer to our prayers of supplication.

Tomorrow . . . a response.


Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gerard_Seghers_-_The_Patient_Job_-_WGA21132.jpg

For more reflections on the words of this prophet, enter the words Daniel or Apocalypse into the blog search bar and explore.

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Sunday, January 30, 2022

Gerard Seghers: Christ and the Penitents

Gerard Seghers: Christ and the Penitents

Ephesians 2:13

Quite Near

Psalm 13:1: How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?

In yesterday’s Noontime we gathered our prayers and petitions to carry them to the one who holds all the answers. Today we gather ourselves to listen to the Word of God.

Ephesians 2:13: In Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near.

Paul answers our question of how long we must wait for God to appear when he reminds us that Christ answers our plea with unquestioning patience, indomitable mercy and limitless love. Jesus replies swiftly with his own presence, and with his invitation to join him in his union with the creator. Today we gather ourselves to hear the Word of God.

Luke 10:1-9: The Lord Jesus appointed seventy-two other disciples whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers few . . . Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way”.

God answers our petition for help by asking us to trust in the plan laid out for our rescue. Today we gather to accept God’s invitation to join in the vital work of the harvest.

Psalm 94:3: How long shall the wicked, O Lord, how long shall the wicked exult?

We have asked how long our suffering will endure . . . and the response to this question is not a pat answer that tells us how many days or weeks or years or eons we must wait for God’s justice to prevail. A close reading of the Gospels tells us what we already know. In the person of Jesus we have all the answer we might need. In our finite world we look for finite solutions and well-defined answers that content us for today, but that have no place in God’s infinite world. In our apocalyptic view of the world we seek a justice that will measure out punishment and reward as if we were all small children, but God asks us to step into something much bigger than the little window we have on the God’s justice.

Psalm 13:1: How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?

God does not hide from us. God is with us constantly and everywhere in the person of the rescuing Jesus. God does not forget us. God is within and around us in the person of the healing Spirit. God does not lose hope in us. God protects and guides, cajoles and upholds, saves and teaches, heals and loves us more than we can understand. Despite our faults and infidelities, God persists in waiting, calling, blessing, forgiving and loving.

Psalm 74:9: We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet, nor is there any among us who knows how long.

There is no need to ask how long; there is no need to despair for we already have God’s response . . . the surety that God dwells within us, asking for our trust and fidelity, forgiving our missteps and misgivings, calling us to great love and great mercy. In our darkest moment and in our deepest grief . . . God has not been distant or hiding. God has been quite near.

Let us move into the world around us . . . and act in a way that confirms our trust in God.


Wealthy80_WEB190115In 2015, Oxfam produced a study indicating that next year one percent of the world’s population will hold more than half of the world’s wealth. The hungry, the impoverished, the homeless may well ask How Long of God as they manage their daily survival. Read the two views at the links below, and reflect on how each of us might be the presence of God to the marginalized.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jan/19/global-wealth-oxfam-inequality-davos-economic-summit-switzerland

For information about the 10 most wealthy families in 2021, visit: https://www.investopedia.com/articles/insights/052416/top-10-wealthiest-families-world.asp

Or read more about the global wealth pyramid at: https://www.statista.com/chart/11857/the-global-pyramid-of-wealth/#:~:text=Global%20Wealth&text=According%20to%20a%20new%20Credit,seen%20on%20the%20following%20pyramid.

Seghers image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerard_Seghers

There are voices that oppose the view expressed above. Read this about the thoughts of Sir Martin Sorrell in a 2015 article from The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jan/23/davos-wpp-martin-sorrell-equality-prosperity

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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

cisternJeremiah 37

Jeremiah in the Dungeon

We have spent several weeks with Jeremiah as he exhorts, complains, and calls. He warns of the danger in presuming that the enemy has been conquered. And for his words of prediction, he is punished. Jeremiah brings truth to ears that know their own guilt. As we move through this chapter, let us pause at verse 9.

Do not deceive yourselves . . .

Jeremiah is on his way to tend to family business but he is detained and accused of deception. Jeremiah, the innocent, suffers; his accusers know that his words point out their own corruption, and they wish to silence him. Perhaps they believe that the prophet’s imprisonment will prove their innocence and his guilt. Let us reflect on verse 14.

Without listening . . .

King Zedekiah refuses to hear Jeremiah and when we read further into this prophecy, we will see what happens to each of these men. For now, let us spend a bit of time with verses 19 and 20.

Where are your own prophets now who prophesied to you that the king of Babylon would not attack you or this land?

From our own life experience, we know that liars perceive their lies – and the lies of their compatriots – as fact. For speaking truth to the structure, Jeremiah will soon be thrown into the cistern. The truth-sayer will be punished severely for speaking the words God sends to him. But lest we think that this prophet brings us only sadness, let us remember some of his earlier words: There will be a new covenant . . . one written on your hearts, not on stone . . . I have plans for your joy, not your woe . . .

The story of Jeremiah may be seen as a dreary one but perhaps it ought to be one of our favorites, for despite the pain and ruin his prophecy brings, Jeremiah does as God asks. And despite the suffering God’s words visit upon him, Jeremiah is ever faithful to his task, ever hopeful in the Lord, and ever loving of his people . . . even those who punish, exile and eventually murder him.

As we pause with Jeremiah today, we pray . . . May we never undergo such torture . . . but may we always be as true as this prophet is to his God.


Adapted from a reflection written on October 22, 2007.

Compare different versions of today’s Noontime by following the scripture link above. Choose other versions of the Bible by using the drop down menus. Sit with Jeremiah for a time today . . . and listen for God’s word.

Enter the name Zedekiah into the blog search bar and spend some time reflecting on the relationship between prophet and king.

To read an interesting post on Jeremiah 37-39 as the prophet journeys from prison to palace, click on the image above or visit: http://www.journeythroughthestory.com/2014/08/jeremiah-37-39.html

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Wednesday, August 19, 2021

Tissot: The Flight of the Prisoners

James Tissot: The Flight of the Prisoners

Jeremiah 25:1-14

Seventy Years 

Can we imagine a seventy-year exile from all that we know? Can we picture seven times seventy years, or a four-hundred-ninety year banishment from all that we have come to love?

Jeremiah reframes for the Israelites – and for us – the cautions laid out by Yahweh with Moses on the desert mountain.

Turn back, each of you, from your evil way and from your evil deeds . . .

Then you shall remain in the land the Lord gave to you of old . . .

Do not follow strange gods to serve and adore them . . .

Jeremiah’s Yahweh speaks of punishment to be delivered in subsequent verses and this clashes with our understanding of the Lord as a forgiving parent who remains with us through every difficulty, even the difficulties we bring on ourselves. We struggle to comprehend why the innocent suffer and why God does not intervene to eradicate every injustice.  And then we recall that we are created in love as God’s image in this world. We remember that we are part of God’s plan of salvation. We remember that our own hands and feet, our minds and lips are God’s in a world crying out for healing. We read these lines from thousands of years ago to recognize our role in God’s plan. When we discover injustice, we are called to act. When we see suffering, we are asked to intervene. When we find sickness, we are called to heal. Wherever we discern the crumbling walls of God’s kingdom, we are commissioned to love with, and for and in Christ.

Jesus tells us: Then the king will say . . . Come, you who are blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited me in;  naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me”. Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you, or thirsty, and give you something to drink?  And when did we see you a stranger, and invite you in, or naked, and clothe you?  When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?” The King will answer and say to them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:34-40)

Individually and collectively we have the power in Christ to build the kingdom in this time and space. Alone and together we have the power in the Spirit to cure and heal. On our own and in solidarity we have the power through God to repair and build. Let us determine to give the years of our exile over to Christ for in so doing we live in the Spirit, and we transform ourselves and the world as we call forth the kingdom with God.


Enter the word captivity into the blog search bar and explore where or how we create our own exile from God, and what we might do to allow our separation to transform us.

For Bible study outlines, click on the image above or go to: http://biblestudyoutlines.org/category/old-testament-bible-study/page/37/ 

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An Almond Tree

An Almond Tree

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Jeremiah 1 & 2

The Watching Tree

Footnotes tell us that the watching tree in verse 11 refers to the almond tree; “the first to bloom in the springtime as though it had not slept. The Hebrew name contains a play on words with ‘I am watching’.” The opening lines here tell us of Jeremiah’s office as prophet. We are given his credentials, so that we might hear and heed the words here offered, so that we might not be afraid, so that we might remember to turn to God in times of turmoil, and so that we might shun the false idols that offer themselves in place of God.

Jeremiah protests that he is too young to serve God as prophet but the Lord says to him: Have no fear . . . because I am with you to deliver you . . . It is I this day who have made you a fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of brass . . . they will fight against you, but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you.

These are words of warning to a people who had turned away from Yahweh and back to the Baal gods. They are also words of encouragement to us. History tells us that the oracles predicted here by Jeremiah unfolded as truth; therefore, the opening words of this prophecy can serve to comfort us as we struggle to understand our role as followers of Christ. God’s words through Jeremiah are meant to console us while we remain the watching trees that remind others of the hope Christ brings, of the trust we must place in God, and of the danger in worshiping false and feeble gods.

I remember the devotion of your youth, the Lord tells us, Sacred to the Lord was Israel, the first fruits of the harvest; should anyone presume to partake of them, evil would befall him, says the Lord. As watching trees, we must have our eyes and hearts open to those who would deceive us, we must announce with a flurry of white blossoming the advent of a time of renewal and rebirth so those who have strayed may yet return. And we need not have any fear about our work of watching, for with God all things are possible. God always delivers the faithful.

When storms destroy all that we hold sacred, there is yet hope.

When trials sap our courage, there is yet strength.

When betrayals blind us to the possibility of a love that knows no bounds, there is yet God.

When suffering swallows our days, there is a place to go and there is something to be done. We are called to be watching trees that announce the hope of the human race. We are created to be watching trees that trust only their maker. We come to fruition as watching trees that offer first fruits back to God and produce good fruit in due season.

We are called by our creator to witness as we watch and wait. When pain and sorrow take over, or in gladness and celebration, let us keep watch as if we have not slept, let us be the first to burst into flower and witness to the hint of spring. And while we wait on the Lord, let us offer our work to the God who made us, God who delivers us, and God who loves us.

No matter our circumstances, sorrow or joy, let us take up our task as watching trees and announce the goodness of God.


Adapted from a reflection written on June 12, 2010.

Image from: http://www.carrollcrossroads.com/blog/the-almond-tree

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Friday, December 18, 2020

Greg Olsen: Joseph, Mary, and Simeon with Jesus

Luke 2:21-40

A Pierced Heart

This is a verse which is my consolation as a parent and particularly as a mother: A sword shall pierce your own heart, so that the thoughts of many may be revealed. When one of my children is suffering through an injustice brought on by no fault of their own, I ask them to remember that there are times when we suffer so that evil and corruption will surface. This does not make the pain any less; it does, however, give us a place to put the pain.

I also love Simeon’s canticle, the prayer we pray as part of the Night Office in the Liturgy of the Hours. It is a lovely way to be thinking as we put ourselves to bed at night. When I am restless during midnight hours, I re-pray this oration because it reminds me why we are here on earth: To know, love and to serve God.

Lord, now you let your servant go in peace;

Your word has been fulfilled:

My own eyes have seen the salvation

Which you have prepared in the sight of your people:

A light to reveal you to the nations

And the glory of your people Israel. 

The image of drifting into sleep having surrendered ourselves to God’s beneficent will is a calming one.

The image of God performing all deeds openly and honestly is a strengthening one.

The image of God keeping true to his agreement with us is a reassuring one.

The image of the Blessed Mother handing her child in confidence to the wise and holy Simeon is a moving one.

The image of Simeon rejoicing at the gift of holding in his arms the world’s salvation is a joyful one.

The image of God’s love for us being so intense, so enduring and so true that it pierces our hearts so that our very thoughts are revealed to us and to others is at once challenging and heartening. It is generous beyond our expectations. For we each hold the Christ child in our own arms.

What a generous and trusting mother is Mary that she allows her heart to be pierced for us. What an awesome and piercing love is Christ’s that he remains with us, and that he persists in taking us with him back to the Father. Knowing this, we might surely walk in peace, even though our hearts be pierced.

Tomorrow, the faithful Anna . . .


This reflection was first written on November 5, 2009.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Psams_8_3_4[1]Psalm 8:3-5

When We Consider

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained; what is man that you take thought of us, and the son of man that you care for him?  Yet you have made him a little lower than God, and you crown him with glory and majesty!

We spend far too much time comparing ourselves with others rather than measuring ourselves against our own potential. We pass too many hours lamenting what might have been or what we wish might be instead of giving thanks for all that we are. We lament loss as a deficit rather than leaning into the grief and growing through the suffering.  We struggle to be like gods without realizing that . . . we are already members of Christ’s Mystical Body.

God says: Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if I so clothe the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will I clothe you? Oh, you of little faith! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek my kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for I have chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. (Luke12:27-32)

Jesus enters the world as an infant in an obscure place of unremarked parents and yet Jesus is the one who supersedes all powers and principalities. With this inversion we cannot help but see that although our lives are brief in the scope of God’s time, we are precious and vital to God’s plan.

When we consider the gift of Jesus’ suffering and love . . . how can we not return so great a gift?


For a visual meditation of Psalm 8, click on the image above and look for the YouTube link, or go to: Psalm 8, A  visual meditation
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erTSh-vhuxA

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