Synod President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison focuses on suffering in a new video for Holy Week 2013 that is available for viewing at http://www.lcms.org/video/holyweek.
The three-and-a-half minute video begins with Harrison sharing the story of Henry, a “faithful Christian
” shut-in and former parishioner “well into his 90s” who looked forward to dying.
He recalls that he “had the opportunity to gently remind Henry that one of the greatest gifts he’ll give to his family – in fact, he did give to his family – was to show them how a faithful Christian deals with suffering and how a faithful Christian dies.
“Of all the things we learn from Holy Week,” Harrison reminds viewers, “we learn especially that in God’s plan, suffering is purposeful, even though it doesn’t often look that way.”
He recounts the “degradation” Jesus endured through His Passion – “being beaten, bearing His cross, being nailed to the cross, suffering, … breathing His last,” and how hard it was for the disciples and other followers to “see the purpose in any of that.”
“Can you imagine the women standing near,” he asks, “looking at Jesus dying on the cross and thinking, ‘It’s over? God hates us. God hates Him. This makes no sense whatsoever.’ ”
“And yet,” Harrison continues, “right in the midst of it, God is doing exactly what He planned.”
He reminds viewers of what Joseph said in Genesis, when he revealed himself to his brothers who had sold him into slavery – “ ‘Don’t be afraid. You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.’
“And so it is in life,” Harrison says. “Things that appear to be terrible, even things that happen at the hands of other people, somehow are encompassed in God’s blessing. Often, we won’t see what those blessings are in this life.”
He compares “us” to “children reaching up onto a hot stove, and having our parents slap our hand and not knowing why. Or, we’re like the women standing looking at Jesus dying on the cross. It was only after the resurrection that it all made sense.”
“But know this,” Harrison emphasizes: “Suffering is purposeful. Even as we make mistakes and sin and suffer for that, suffering is purposeful through repentance.
“And the Lord blesses through suffering,” Harrison says. “He opens our eyes to Him through suffering. He drives us to Jesus Christ suffering. He causes our faith to grow through suffering. Blessed Holy Week to you, as you meditate on our dear Lord’s suffering – all of it for you.”
Updated March 28, 2013