– A Spiritual Exercise –

The Bible teaches that Christ sympathizes with us; He is touched deeply by our pain, and feels it with us. Whatever reality you are experiencing today, be encouraged that the Lord is experiencing it with you. The following exercise is designed to help you encounter the Lord’s abiding presence in the here and now, in the middle of any weakness or suffering you might be encountering today:

(1) Find a place and time free from interruption. Be still for a few moments.

(2) Read Mark 14:10-15:47. As you read, list all of the ways Christ suffered. Within a short span of time, Jesus experienced every form of suffering and victimization we could ever imagine or encounter: slander, betrayal, and abuse — just to name a few. Christ drained the cup of suffering.

(3) Read the following, and notice how Christ ministers to us: Hebrews 4:14&15; 5:2; 7:25; Romans 8:26-27. Christ not only feels our suffering, but He identifies with it. The Holy Spirit — the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9; Phil, 1:19) stands before the Father, interceding on our behalf with deep cries and groaning beyond all human means and understanding. Jesus doesn’t leave us to our hurt and sadness, nor does he remove it. Rather, He steps into the suffering. He sits and weeps with us. He is for you and with you now.

(4) Identify significant points of hurt, weakness and suffering you are encountering right now. No matter the level of pain, name each thought, feeling, and moment that comes to mind — no matter the degree or form of grief, anguish, hurt and doubt produced. Pay attention to how you feel as you think about these things.

(5) Now, invite Jesus into your moment — to come share with you through His abiding presence. I have tasted God’s grace and encountered His presence most profoundly during times of crisis, exhaustion and loss. Suffering has often become the threshold I pass through to deeper communion with Him.

(6) To close, here is a short litany, taken from Fran Pratt’s “Litany for God’s Presence in Suffering:”

We take comfort in Christ, who is a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief; and we are consoled by His having walked the road of suffering ahead of us.
You are with us.
We believe anew in the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
You are with us.
It is because of Christ that hope still stirs within us.
You are with us.
And it is by His example that we turn to You in the midst of our suffering.
You are with us.
May our dry bones be enlivened; our stone hearts be made flesh; and our sickness be not unto death.
You are with us.
Hallelujah. Amen.[1]

[1] The full version can be found at: https://www.franpratt.com/litanies/2015/12/28/litany-for-gods-presence-in-suffering

By Dave Hook
Pastor of Worship Arts

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