Suffering or Peace?

Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you will have suffering. But take heart. I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Which would you rather have: today, Monday, the first day of another week? Suffering or peace? That may seem like a stupid question. Peace, of course! But what can I do about this suffering? We’re lonely. We’re tired of being cooped up. We’re aching for touch. Many are out of work. The economy is suffering. Where can I find enough peace so I can face another week with a good attitude?

In The Art of Living, Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese monk, reflects about Siddhartha Gautama, who “was a human being; and after his enlightening, he was still a human being, with all the suffering and afflictions that having a human body entails. He experienced feelings and emotions, pain, cold hunger, and fatigue, just like all of us. We shouldn’t think that because we experience the sufferings and afflictions of being human we cannot touch peace.”

There are many ways to handle physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and relational (social) suffering. But all of these begin with acceptance. In the scripture passage from John’s Gospel, Jesus acknowledges the reality of suffering as long as we are living. But what does he mean, “in me you might have peace”?

One way to handle suffering is to use the TINT method. TINT stands for: This Is Not That. For example, my frustration with being cooped up need NOT be an impediment to enjoying my family. One argument is NOT the end of love. “This Is Not That” means that I need not confuse suffering and pain over specific realities with the gifts of grace, gratitude and enjoyment that are still abundant. TINT is a way of compartmentalizing; of sorting out and naming the specific source of suffering so it doesn’t get confused or muddied up with the good stuff.

So, when Jesus says, “in me you might have peace”, for me it means that I don’t need to confuse the reality of a current situation with the grace, acceptance, love, and hope that I have in Christ. Someone once said that our spiritual lives are not about the elimination of suffering, but about daily steps, courageously holding hands with God in Christ. Amen

Click here for an old tune about this that I remember from years ago:

Rev. Dr. David Kaiser-Cross

Executive Minister

For our local leaders:
God, grant wisdom and courage to our local county and city leaders as they make decisions this week and in the coming months. Amen.