Monday, March 21 – Psalms 51:1–18 (18–19); 69:1–23; Lam. 1:1–2, 6–12; 2 Cor. 1:1–7; Mark 11:12–25
(BCP Readings for today)
Affliction is a word once used in historical medical journals and essays to describe an array of diseases. The description of an illness today might be “He had a stroke”. This creates a picture of a hospital, physical therapists, treatment and rehabilitation. One hundred years ago, the description may have been, “he was afflicted with a palsy”, producing images of a life spent in a bed or chair, with diminished functions. We have progressed in our modern country to a point where most physical sufferings can be treated, lessened or relieved to at least some degree. Today, we have more hope.
Whilst working in a remote town in Guatemala, I encountered a lady with a broken leg. Four men carried her on a litter from the road up a steep hill to her home where she lay on her bed for two days until travel arrangements could be made to take her to a hospital several hours away to have a cast applied. This woman was afflicted with suffering and comfort was limited. Observing this incident in a developing country was in stark contrast to what I knew would have happened in a first world country with ambulance transport, pain relief, stabilization, crutches, and follow up care.
In the Psalms we read of overwhelming affliction and comfort that seems limited. Lamentations describes Israel, desolate and broken, paying the price for her unfaithfulness. The journey of faith appears long and arduous. The hope of redemption and reconciliation in the coming Messiah seems far off.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul speaks of sharing in the abounding comfort of Christ. We no longer have the limits of a developing faith. We now have an authored, finished faith in Jesus Christ. The one who suffered affliction for our sins is now the ample source of comfort in our sufferings. Today we have a firm and abiding hope that whatever befalls us Jesus Christ is our source, our strength and our unlimited comfort.