Monday, June 24, 2013

The Truth of Suffering

In around 500 BC, there was an Indian prince, Gautama. Growing up in the palace, he was shown nothing but good. One day, however, Gautama sneaked out of the palace. Out in the city, he was shocked by what he saw – illness, aging and death, those were all very strange to him. Gautama’s adventure eventually led him to his search of enlightenment. Siddhārtha Gautama, or better known as the Buddha, his shocking discovery has later become the core teaching of Buddhism.

The story of the Buddha reminded me of the first human beings – Adam and Eve. Under the loving care of God, Adam and Eve experienced nothing but good in Eden, until one day when they decided to go against God's command by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Their eyes were opened to see the evils of the world. Just like what God had warned them, “When you eat from it you will certainly die.” Illness, aging and death have therefore seeped into human life. This is the beginning of what the Buddha experienced and identified as suffering. While there is no escape from illness, aging and death, could our lives be anything other than suffering?

From the very beginning, God created the world out of nothing. He created night and day, sky and sea, land and vegetation, stars, the sun and the moon, sea creatures, bird and all the animals on earth, so that we may have the daylight for the plants, night time for the rest, water to hydrate our bodies, and a food chain that benefits us. God created Adam first, and He breathed into him to give him life;  and then, He created Eve, so that Adam and Eve may have fellowship with each other, and to fill the earth. Even after Adam and Eve had sinned against God by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, when driving them out from Eden, God kindly clothed them to cover their nakedness. Knowing that we are stubborn and weak, God provided Salvation through Christ as the way for us to return to Him.

What we didn’t have and didn’t deserve to have, God graciously provided for us. Everything in our lives are gifts and blessings from God. He gives and takes away according to His own wisdom with our best interest in mind. This is how we may have joy in the midst of what appeared to be suffering. We know that God could make us light of the world even in our illness. We know that God is in control in every season of our lives even when we are advanced in years. We know that as God’s children in Christ’s name, death is not the end for us. We know that God could make things as unbearable as death into something beautiful. Just like what Paul says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.”

Last week, my church family in Taiwan had just celebrated the life of a dear sister in Christ. She fought a good fight against the world and cancer, and now she has returned home ahead of us to our Heavenly Father. We grief because we are so used to have her around, and know that it’ll be a long time before we could see her again; but we have joy for both the legacy she left us and the peace she is now experiencing in the arms of God. I thank God for her life, as well as many others’ lives that encountered mine. The trials and sufferings of this life may very well be God’s mercies in disguise.

Blessings by Laura Story

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