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How Much More Can We Take?

As I write these words, our nation remembers the horrors of “9-11.” While we look to past tragedies of terrorism, we’re faced with current tragedies of hurricanes. Millions of people in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida are facing loss of property, businesses, and, for some, even friends and/or family members.

I wonder, How much more can we take?

And then I think of a dear friend battling cancer, whose very own grandson is doing the same. I learned last week of another teenage suicide. Last night I listened to a police officer talk about a thirteen-year old kid shot and killed not far from our church building.

I wonder, How much more can we take?

And then I think about you—some whom I know, others whom I may never know—and I can only imagine those times in your life where you have endured pain, loss, agony, grief, disappointment, and rejection.

I wonder, How much more can YOU take?

But then I remember. I remember that pain isn’t the final word. I remember that our stories have multiple chapters, some filled with agony, others with ecstasy. I remember each story has a conclusion that has already been written but not yet experienced. And I remember the Suffering Servant who chose not to separate himself from our world of pain but to embrace it, experience it, and redeem it.

“Jesus also suffered…” (Hebrews 13:12). “Christ also suffered for you…” (1 Peter 2:21). “Christ also suffered once for sins…” (1 Peter 3:18). “Christ suffered in the flesh” (1 Peter 4:1). “Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested” (Hebrews 2:18).

It’s one thing to hear a lecture on the theology of suffering; it’s another to hear someone share their experience of suffering, and then to have that person say, “Let me walk with you through it, because there is something greater on the other side.”

How much more can we take? How much more can YOU take? I don’t know the answer, but I know the One who walks the road of suffering with you. I know cancer is not the final word. I know hurricanes don’t get the last say. I know terrorists don’t determine the conclusion of the divine-human story. Only God does. And as I previously stated, the conclusion is already written but not yet experienced.

“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54b-57). And that, my friends, IS the final word.

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