by Tony Nester

This content is part of a series.

On the Ash Heap (1 of 5)
Series: Faith and Suffering
Tony Nester
Job 2:1-10; Mark 8:31-33

A little girl was riding along on her bike when she bumped her head on the low hanging branch of a tree. She ran into the house hollering, "Mom! Mom, Joey hurt me!" Mom looked up from what she was doing and said, "Sissy, Joey didn't hurt you. Joey's not even here. He went to the grocery store with your daddy."

The little girl got this startled look on her face. Then in a bewildered sort of voice she said, "Whoa! You mean stuff like this can happen on its own? Bummer!"

It's hard to face up to the fact that life doesn't always make sense. Bad things happen for no good reason. Some stuff just happens on its own. We might be able to blame somebody for some part of our suffering - a drunk driver, a careless worker, a crazed killer - but we're still left without answers that make any sense: Why me? Why my loved one? Why now? Why couldn't they be spared as others were spared?

Suffering has always been one of the hardest tests for faith to withstand. Much of the Bible is about how faith is challenged by suffering, as well as how suffering is altered by faith.

Lent is the Season of the Church Year that brings suffering to the fore. Beginning tonight with the imposition of ashes we move week by week closer to the Cross of Christ. Lent culminates on Good Friday - good for us, but an awful experience of suffering for Jesus.

This is, therefore, a good time for us to bring to God our disappointments, our sorrows, and our hurts. There is room for all of them under the shadow of His Cross.

"I know the things that happen," wrote Paul Scherer, "the loss and the loneliness and the pain. ... But there's a mark on it now; as if Someone who knew that way Himself, because He had traveled it, had gone on before and left His sign; and all of it begins to make a little sense at last -- gathered up, laughter and tears, into the life of God, with His arms around it! (2).

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