When people think about church, they usually do not think about suffering. Some may think about hymns or prayers. Some may think about a place that cares. Some may even think about a boring old building filled with out of touch people.

What if, when we thought about church, we remembered a young woman from the 3rd century, Saint Perpetua, who believed in a loving God with such faith that she chose to be tortured and put to death rather than recant her belief?

Would we look at those old buildings differently?

Take a moment today to think about faith and church differently, and consider how many have suffered and continue to suffer so that we may worship and serve Christ.

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All of you who revere the Lord— praise him! All of you who are Jacob’s descendants— honor him! All of you who are all Israel’s offspring— stand in awe of him!

Because he didn’t despise or detest the suffering of the one who suffered— he didn’t hide his face from me. No, he listened when I cried out to him for help.

Psalm 22:23-24

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It seems these days that people believe that if you are Christian and you have faith, you should not have to suffer. Only bad people suffer and good people — well, they have good things happen to them. But what happens when something bad happens to someone who is good or faithful? Where does that leave us?

The writer of Psalm 22 has experienced a long period of sickness and imprisonment. Bad stuff. Yet at the end of this passage, it says that God listened. If the psalmist had faith, why would God just listen? Why not prevent the bad from happening?

It turns out, faith doesn’t work like that. Suffering is a part of life, and the choices that we make and others make affect us. God does not prevent suffering from happening to anyone: good or bad, faithful or without faith.

But don’t be discouraged. The psalmist reminds us that God listens. God, the all powerful, listens, pays attention, and cares. We are not alone.

Stephen Mazingo

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Lord, be with me in my time of need and with all who suffer. Listen and hear the sufferings of your children and comfort them in their need, that their faith may know your love. Amen.

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Be a comfort to those who are suffering. Take time to have compassion, as Christ has compassion for us. Let the sacrifices of many and the passion of the faithful be your guide and strength. Go into the world.

Stephen Mazingo

Stephen Mazingo was born in Jacksonville, NC. He attended his church youth program and diocese events, and it was through these experiences that he decided to pursue the track to priesthood. After graduating from Virginia Theological Seminary, Stephen served his first post as a missionary of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Matlosane, South Africa. Stephen then served as Associate Rector at St. James Parish in Wilmington, NC from 2008 to 2012, and was called to St. Peter’s in Fernandina Beach, FL in January 2013.

Wondrous Love: O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go

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