Learn More: On Suffering, Vol. 24 No 2.

As we reflect on this lifestyle celebration, we invite you to explore some of our staff top picks from media and resources that deal with suffering

READ

Dorothee Soelle unpacks and demystifies suffering in this renowned work about the meaning of pain and the God who suffers with us. Soelle was a German theologian and philosopher greatly influenced by Bonhoeffer. She pushes back against the common thought that God is, at best, distant from suffering and, at worst, the cause of it. Instead, she argues that God is in the midst of suffering, and that the meaning of pain is to find Him in it. She asserts that suffering, when understood correctly and experienced with Christ, has a powerful way of uniting humanity, allowing us to struggle together toward healing, freedom, and joy.

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LISTEN

Sarah Mclachlan and students from her school of music recorded a moving interpretation of the Prayer of St. Francis. Francis’ life and work have greatly influenced the work of Word Made Flesh, and this particular depiction of perhaps his most famous prayer powerfully pairs resonant words with the voices of children. The staging of the video underlines the tension of Light and darkness that is navigated in suffering. Click on the image to watch on YouTube.

Listen Here

…Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy…


OBSERVE

On an international office staff retreat, we were grateful to view this painting, titled “Thrones for the Twelve,” that hangs in the gallery and museum of The Upper Room national headquarters in Nashville. Painted in 1962 by Howard Ellis, the work depicts the Last Supper against a crimson backdrop. The disciples are seated around Jesus, each (except Judas) with a halo around their heads like Jesus’. The center point of the painting is the bread and wine, perhaps implying that central to being a follower of Jesus is to partake in His suffering; to share with Him and each other the broken bread and the poured-out cup. The silhouettes of the table and the 13 figures create a black crown — reminding us that through and because of the darkness of suffering, we are crowned with Hope and partake also in Christ’s life and resurrection.

 

CONTEMPLATE

Mother Teresa (1910-1997), from “No Greater Love”

“SUFFERING will never be completely absent from our lives. So don’t be afraid of suffering. Your suffering is a great means of love, if you make use of it, especially if you offer it for peace in the world. Suffering in and of itself is useless, but suffering that is shared with the passion of Christ is a wonderful gift and a sign of love. Christ’s suffering proved to be a gift, the greatest gift of love, because through his suffering our sins were atoned for…

Suffering, pains, sorrow, humiliation, feelings of loneliness, are nothing but the kiss of Jesus, a sign that you have come so close that He can kiss you.”

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