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When Suffering Must Happen

by Maria Lovinia Gaane
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A review of last Sunday’s sermon based on Matthew 26:47-56.

This week’s Sunday Message talked about Jesus’ betrayal and arrest. What is even more grievous about it is that His betrayal came by way of one of the twelve. Through a kiss, no less. But in the passage, Jesus reminds us that “all this has taken place so that the Scriptures of the prophets will be fulfilled” (NASB, v. 56a).

In his sermon, Pr. David Chiong, lists four times Jesus’ suffering had to happen, namely:

1. Judas’ betrayal fulfills Scripture
2. The people’s evil plot to kill Jesus fulfills Scripture
3. The disciples’ abandonment fulfills Scripture
4. Jesus’ suffering fulfills God’s salvation plan for the glory of His name

Knowing everything that will happen beforehand, Jesus accepted His fate. He did not resist when He was arrested; He did not resist everything else they did to Him leading to His death on the cross. Through it all, Jesus was not a victim. He was neither a victim nor had a victim mindset. A victim mindset is characterized by avoiding responsibility, having a sense of helplessness, and believing in negative self-talk. Jesus did none of those things. He came to suffer and die, and that is what He did.

Just as it was inevitable for Jesus to suffer, the same can be said of us. Suffering is part of life, and it comes in many forms. This pandemic is one of the few times in history when suffering, from the same adversity, is on a global level. But pandemic, notwithstanding, no one is unfamiliar with suffering. As Christians, we have an edge over the others because as Pr. David said, “When Christians are hurt, attacked and abandoned, we look to Christ.”

Jesus’ warning to His disciples can also be applied to us. “These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). What a tremendous comfort this verse gives. We won’t find real peace anywhere else other than in Him. He promised a peace which can co-exist with suffering or any form of adversity. Thus, we are to continue to be brave and hopeful in the face of tribulations because Jesus has already overcome the world. Jesus overcame the world in His life, death, and resurrection.

What, then, should our response be to suffering? When we hear of news about new Coronavirus strains, rising prices of basic commodities brought about by the continued pork shortage, another typhoon coming our way, loss of employment, onset of sickness, etc., how do we react? Our attitude towards suffering contributes much to how we cope with them when they come. And come, they will; there is no avoiding suffering. Therefore, instead of praying for deliverance, let us pray instead for the grace to faithfully endure. Let us face suffering like Jesus did. He went to the cross not in fear or in despair, but as a conqueror. Likewise, we don’t have to let suffering defeat us or get the best of us. We don’t have to act like victims or have a victim mindset.

Pastor David also taught us how we should respond to suffering, he said: “Trust in God’s goodness and His good plan that through suffering, He will display His grace for the glory of His name.”

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