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Lenten Devotional - 6

Lenten Devotional - 6

Author: Von Parangalan
April 15, 2022

Philippians 3:10-11- I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it. (The Message version)

"No playing after 3 o'clock!" This was what my grandmother used to say to us and my cousins on Good Friday. She's Catholic and the practice for most Filipinos (or at least in our province) is to believe that Jesus is actually dead after three in the afternoon on Good Friday and resurrects on Easter Sunday. Not only should we be sad, but we should also exercise extreme care because if we get injured between 3pm on Friday until Easter Sunday, our wounds will take a long time to heal since Jesus is dead. These traditions along with flagellation and actual human crucifixion shaped my very young mind of what 'partnering in Jesus' suffering' meant.

While I no longer believe in this flawed practice of inflicting pain on myself in order to share in Christ's suffering, I still struggle with what it truly means to share in His suffering. Holy week makes this struggle bubble on the surface even more. What does it look like to share in Jesus' suffering? How should it feel? Should I be crying? What if there isn't anything to be sad about? Am I not focusing my attention on the stuff that would break God's heart? Maybe I am not praying hard enough. 

When I reflect on the last couple of years, we certainly had our share of difficult times. Last fall, my wife's only sibling (my brother in law) suddenly passed away from cardiac arrest and two weeks later, my father in law died after a short battle with COVID. All of a sudden, my mother in law is all by herself and her only family is living on the opposite side of the globe. Then there was the car accident early last year that caused multiple trauma to my wife rendering her incapacitated for quite sometime and needing to undergo extensive physical rehabilitation in order to get back up on her feet again. So yeah, life wasn't always smooth sailing. Maybe this qualifies as "sharing in His sufferings". But the irony of it is, it was during these times that God really felt very near. Although pain, both physical and emotional, was in abundance, the grace of God abounds even more. The car accident caused broken bones but we marveled at God's protection and were amazed by His healing power. Lives may have been lost after the death of my wife's father and her only brother but it brought long overdue bonding time for my wife and my mother in law. These blessings are immeasurably more than we could have ever asked or imagined!!

I may not fully comprehend what sharing in Christ's suffering means but maybe it is enough to be joyful always, to pray continually and  to give thanks in all circumstances (1st Thessalonians 5:16-18). If you are in the middle of a very painful and difficult situation right now, I mourn with you. I encourage you to consider it pure joy when you receive trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance (James 1:2-3). If on the other hand you are overwhelmed with God's blessings, be grateful and rejoice. And again I say, rejoice!!

A Psalm of David (Psalm 8)

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
   what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?


Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

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