Word for Word 7/29/20

Rev. Diane Koshmeder
Rev. Diane Koshmeder

The Word of the Day is SUFFERING

A reflection by Rev. Diane Koshmeder

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it;
if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
—1 Corinthians 12:26

SUFFERING. I don’t like it. I’m sure you don’t like it either. It’s not fun and self-pity comes easily. SUFFERING might be an inconvenience like wearing a mask in public or the trauma of losing a child to violence. Theologians have asserted that “Why is there suffering?” is the #1 question we ask God. And there is no satisfactory answer.

Maybe a feeling of peace, feeling God’s presence through our SUFFERING, but not an answer as such.

The COVID-19 pandemic is real and it has brought a lot of SUFFERING and uncertainty with it. Loved ones are very sick but we can’t be with them. We may be sick ourselves. Work and school are disrupted. Kids have anxieties for which we have no answer. We have no idea when things will be better or safe. Three siblings near me are grieving the deaths of both their mother and father. An 80 year-old friend who has leukemia has been in the hospital 3 weeks without a visitor to hold her hand.

And on top of all the SUFFERING brought on by this mysterious, insidious virus spreading around the world - with the poor and vulnerable most at risk - is the SUFFERING and abuse of our brothers and sisters of color. A Black man jogging, another can’t breathe while bystanders look on and don’t help, a young girl has lighter fluid splashed on her face and lit while her attacker yells the n-word. An unarmed Latino man is beaten while calling for help.  American Indians are forced off their land and treaties are not honored. A Muslim is spit upon. There is so much SUFFERING. God, have mercy.

Jesus teaches us, “You are to love God with your whole body, mind and soul - and your neighbor as yourself.” What we are called to is solidarity. There is ONE race: the human race. We suffer together and we are healed together. This is different from sympathy which feels bad about a situation but stays at a safe distance. This is different from service, which is too often the haves giving to the have-nots with a degree of superiority.  Solidarity is joining with our brothers and sisters as equals - sharing risk, tears and joy. Solidarity is seeing, listening, taking a stand. Christ is calling us to love one another, suffer with one another and rejoice with one another. We are one. We are many. We are one body in Christ. We are all God’s chosen in solidarity with one another. And God is surely with us. Praise God! 

Rev. Diane Koshmeder
Retired ELCA
clergyperson and member of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Lansing


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