How Jesus helps us to bear up

Everyone is confronted with suffering one way or another. But how do we deal with it? There are many questions, but few answers to be had. Yet there is one particular source of comfort and strength. And there is a role model whom we can follow.

“[Let us look] unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” This is the solution which Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider presented in the divine service in New York, USA, on 12 March 2023..

“We all have to deal with suffering,” he said. Many have to deal with pain, hardship, and trials. And others experience the suffering around them. “So in a way we share the sufferings of others.”

This raises questions, the Chief Apostle said. “Why does all this suffering exist? Why doesn’t God intervene? What can I do?” He explained that the Holy Spirit will not answer all our questions, but gives us this piece of advice: “Look unto Jesus and remember His Passion.”

How suffering can be understood

And what does the Passion of Christ teach us? Well, first of all how suffering is to be understood.

  • On no account must it be understood as punishment, the Chief Apostle said: “Jesus was perfect, without any sin. There was no reason for Him to be punished by God.”
  • Nor is it necessarily a consequence of bad decisions: “This is an explanation for a number of problems in this world.” But that does not explain an earthquake, the Chief Apostle said: “No human being can trigger the movement of tectonic plates.”
  • Nor is suffering necessarily a test to help us mature spiritually. “That may be one explanation. But it does not explain why a child dies from cancer.”

“There is no answer, no good answer, no general answer for suffering.” We cannot understand God, the Chief Apostle said. Not even Jesus understood Him. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Ultimately, all we can do is trust in God as Jesus did: “Into Your hands I commit My spirit.”

How we can deal with suffering

The suffering of Christ shows how we can respond to suffering:

  • with love. In order to have fellowship with human beings, the Son of God left the glory of God in order to share our human fate. “What am I willing to give up to have fellowship with God?”
  • in our behaviour towards God. For Jesus the fellowship with His Father was more important to Him than His own suffering. “Don’t focus on your suffering. Focus on your goal. Do not allow this suffering, no matter how great it may be, to control your life.”
  • in our behaviour towards our neighbour: “When we go through difficult times, we have a mission to help others through our behaviour. In such moments we can be a special blessing for many.”

Nothing can prevent Christ from completing His work

“We live in a time in which one might think that the work of salvation is no longer all that successful. Has Jesus abandoned His church?” The answer is: “No. No. No. No. He will remain with His church, with His Apostles until the end.” Because what counts, the Chief Apostle said, is not what we can see with our eyes, what we can experience as human beings in the visible world. What counts is the word of Jesus Christ, and He promised: “I will be with you until the end.”

“These are just a few thoughts on what we can learn from the Passion of Christ. It is not just a sad story, it is also a source of comfort, wisdom, and joy. Because we know that nothing and nobody can hinder Jesus Christ from accomplishing His work. That is our faith. That is our conviction.”

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Andreas Rother
USA, Chief Apostle, Divine service