Lent is the season of the church year during which we are invited to journey with Jesus to the cross.  We typically take this journey by focusing on what Jesus did, on how he suffered and on the miracle of his resurrection.  It is the essence of what makes our Christian faith uniquely meaningful…that in Jesus’ very vulnerability and brokenness God acted to bring about resurrection, new life and a new beginning.  God acted at a time when everything seemed to speak of an ending.  Jesus had died.  His followers had abandoned him at the very moment he most needed their faithfulness.  The picture was bleak…it seemed that all hope died with Jesus on the cross that Good Friday afternoon.  What happened between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is a mystery…it goes against everything that we can comprehend with our rational minds.  Yet God acted, and what seemed to be the end turned out to be a new beginning.


Lent provides us with another opportunity…it gives us a chance to reflect upon our own areas of vulnerability and brokenness? How have we suffered? What has suffering meant in our lives?  Has our suffering been redeemed or are we still in the tight grip of our pain? 


One thing I can say unequivocally is that suffering is NOT something I embrace.  My wording may be less elegant, but like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, I pray, “Father, let this cup pass from me”.  I may tell myself that I’m being melodramatic or keep myself extra busy or try to ignore the pain.  Inevitably, there comes a point where my diversionary tactics no longer work and I find myself lonely and in pain.  It’s at that point that I remember there was more to what Jesus prayed that dark night.  He went on to say, “Yet, not my will, but thine be done.”  Jesus walked into his suffering.


Unredeemed pain is that suffering that lives on inside each of us, sometimes for years, without having been touched by the healing hand of Christ.  What both scripture and my lived experience have taught me is that the only way to have pain redeemed is to journey into and through it.  In so doing, what appears to be an ending becomes a new beginning…something we would never have thought possible in the bleakness of our endings.  Could Jesus’ disciples have imagined that his death would inspire a faith that lives on 2000 years later? 


I learned about suffering and how that impacted my relationships and me. 


Yet, with God, the disciples learned that Jesus’ death was not an ending; rather it was a new beginning.


As I reflected upon Jesus and his suffering it took me back to a time when several friends gathered together in our home to form a spiritual growth group.  We called the group “Kairos”—Greek word for “in God’s time”.  We decided that the best way for us to build community was for each individual to take one meeting to share about their life…their spiritual journey.  What I came to realize in the course of listening to each person’s story is that suffering is a universal experience—none of us make it through this life without encountering times of deep pain and sorrow.  Perhaps I was blinded to this truth because our culture teaches us that vulnerability is a sign of weakness. We have learned to keep our sorrows inside and suffer our pain alone.


Debbie Kohler