These days, many preach a gospel without repentance, without suffering, therefore, without power. This kind of gospel is one that does not save. St Paul tells us clearly in the First Reading, that the life of a true believer of Christ is a paradox: we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. Everyone suffers. The question is do we suffer with Christ or do we suffer alone. To suffer with Christ is to have hope. To suffer without Christ is to have nothing to look forward to. There is no hope because there is no God. But when we suffer with Christ, we may be afflicted, confused, persecuted, beaten, dying, but we know God is with us. This does not mean he will take our sufferings away. What this means is he will transform all these into something glorious. St Paul says we are earthen vessels so the extraordinary power of God is made clear. God uses those sufferings to bring us to glory!
Our life in Christ does not mean a life of material prosperity, or of never ending laughter. Riches or laughter does not guarantee a fulfilled life, because fullness of life is found only in Jesus Christ. Life is not something. Life is a Person and his name is Jesus. Society has marched vigorously towards death on demand, from the womb to the end of life. The reason for this is society has rejected the God of life. When we reject the God of Life, all we have is death. Death becomes the answer to our suffering. One who believes in the God and Father of Jesus can say what the Psalm today says: those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy. There is hope that our sufferings will be transformed, that even if God will not take away our sufferings, he will lead us through the sufferings into his glory and victory! This is why we can shout for joy, even when we drink the cup of suffering of Jesus Christ.
If you are in a situation where you are suffering and are losing hope, if you think death is the only answer, stop. Read this carefully. There is hope, there is a solution to your suffering: come to Jesus. He wants to lead you through this suffering into glory. You just need to give him permission to work in your life. You may have sinned greatly, Jesus knows this, but he still calls you to come to him so he can heal you. He throws your sins as far as the east is from the west. You may think you do not deserve to live. Jesus says, you are worthy of life because he has died for you. You may think no one can love you. Jesus says, he loves you so much, he wants you to live with him for eternity, in joy, peace and glory.
Lord Jesus, in the midst of suffering and I cry out to you. Come Lord, enter my life and do with it as you will. I surrender everything to you. I am tired of struggling, I am tired of the darkness, I am tired of the sorrow and pain. Take them all Lord and give me the life you want me to have. I turn to you and accept you and allow you to rule over me. Take away my sins and make me whole again. St James, help me to see that Jesus can turn these sufferings to glory. Just as your death show the glory of God, show me how I can die to my desires and give glory to Jesus.