Scripture Reading: Psalms 18:1-3
Christians attempt to comfort sufferers by touting the benefits of suffering. “Suffering builds character,” we say. “I don’t want character,” says the sufferer. “I want relief.” Then come the inevitable questions: “Why does God let bad things happen?” and “Where is God when it hurts?”
God’s only Son became a man in Christ. In His human nature, God Himself suffered rejection, humiliation, ridicule, abandonment, buffetings, scourging, crucifixion, and death. He embraced suffering as a man so that He could comfort us in our sufferings.
When we make the sign of the cross, we invite the Lord to join us in our suffering. We touch our forehead and move down to our breast, telling the Lord with this gesture that we want Him to bend down to us. Then we cross our shoulders in a movement that asks Him to support us—to shoulder us—in our suffering. In quite a number of the Psalms, David sings of taking refuge beneath the Lord’s wings, which the church fathers understood as a prophecy of our finding safety in the shadow of His crucified arms (see Psalms 17:8; 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; 63:7). The Lord’s outstretched arms pledge that He understands our sufferings and shares it with us.
Just as the Psalms anticipate the grace of Christ’s crucifixion, the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy provided another foreshadowing of the Cross as a place of refuge. It reported Moses’ farewell address, in which he seemed to describe the silhouette of the Cross in the far distance. He assured Israel that the arms of the Lord would uphold them through all their troubles: “The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deuteronomy 33:27, RSV)
Today we see the cross clearly as a sign of God’s mercy and consolation. I take advantage of the grace and support the Lord offers me with His outstretched arms. When trouble strikes, I find myself often, saying, “Lord, scoop me up in Your everlasting arms, carry me through this trial, and comfort me.” Strengthened by His response to that simple gesture and prayer, I find the strength to overcome or endure hardship.
MASS: WHITE Deut 7:6-11; Ps 103:1-126.96.36.199-7.8.10 (R.17ab); 1 Jn 4:7-16; Accl. Mt 11:29ab; Mt 11:25-30 MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS (SOLEMNITY) / Evening Jer 1:4-10; Ps 71:1-2.3-4a.5-6ab.15ab.17 (R.6b); 1 Pet 1:8-12; Accl. Jn 1:7; Lk1:17 ;Lk 1:5-17 VIGIL MASS OF THE BIRTH OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST (SOLEMNITY)
1. Thank You for the lessons You have taught us through the unparalleled witness of Your servant Job, the severe and sustained trials and tribulations that he endured and the glorious outcome at the end of his journey. I pray that even though I do not understand the reason for so many of the difficulties that I have to endure, that You will provide me with the sufficient grace I need to persevere to the end. Strengthen and uphold me in the power of Your Spirit, and to sustain and comfort me I pray, so that in all things I may patiently endure to the end to Your praise and glory. I humbly ask this in the name of Jesus.
2. Thank You for the example of these faithful ones who remained steadfast in their faith and patiently endured many difficulties, despite the overwhelming trials they were called to face. Help us like them, stand firm in the wicked times in which we live and may all those who seek to live godly in Christ Jesus remain steadfast in the faith and persevere as faithful soldiers of Christ – as together we run the race that is set before us in Your power and strength.
Exercise: Make Psalms 91 your prayer this night just before you go to bed.
Mediation: James 1:12