The Suffering of Compassion // Colossians 1:24-29

We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.
— Dietrich BonHoeffer

Our God is a compassionate God. We know this only because he has entered our suffering with us. That is the very definition of compassion -- "to suffer with." How then can we consider ourselves the body of Christ if we fail to enter the suffering of our neighbors? Many among us relish the thought of being compassionate people, but whose suffering are we sharing in? We live in a cultural moment when the dogmatic teachings of the church largely fall on deaf ears. Our pronouncements of judgment against sin are like clanging gongs in an echo chamber, ever ricocheting off hardened surfaces, finding no soft places to land. Yet mercy and compassion are the instruments of God's Spirit to turn stone into clay. Our church has a mission: to participate in the life and death of Jesus, to suffer with sinners as he did, to offer this Christ within us.


CALL TO WORSHIP

Beloved of God, enter into this place and find your rest. Our God is a good and holy God, inviting us to Himself.
We will enter into this place. Lord, receive us.

Children of God, see before you the mystery of our salvation: Christ in us, the very hope of glory in you and in your family gathered here.
We will love one another and rejoice. Lord, embrace us.

O Saints of God, behold your savior: Jesus, a man of countless sorrows, who is acquainted with all our daily afflictions.
We will marvel at Christ here. Lord, open our eyes.

Though the troubles of this world are too many and the resources of this world too few, our God has promised us Himself.
We will trust in His promises, made known in our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

PRAYER OF CONFESSION

The people cry out, “God! Where are you in this storm!? How could this happen!?” Father God, we cry out with them. We don’t see your ways. We don’t trust you.
Lord have mercy on us.

The people cry out, “How could a loving God allow so much pain? Where is the comforter in the deaths of the innocent?” Father God, we cry out with them. We don’t trust you.
Christ have mercy on us.

The people cry out, “Where is God as the storm surges? Where is He in the drive-bys? Where is He in the wars that rage?” Father God, we cry out with them. We don’t see your ways. We don’t trust you.
Lord have mercy on us.

The people cry out, “We are alone. We are tired. We are scared. Where were You when we needed you, God? Where are you now?” Father God, we cry out with them. We don’t see your ways. We don’t trust you.
Christ have mercy on us.

Our faith is so weak God. We don’t see how this makes sense. Like Job, we are reaching for answers outside of our ability to understand. Please, show us Jesus here. Teach us the mystery that is Christ in us. The hope of glory.
We believe, help our unbelief. Amen.

Samantha ConnourTopical