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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I offer praise in the great congregation because of you; I will fulfill my promises in the presence of those who honor God. Let all those who are suffering eat and be full! Let all who seek the Lord praise him! I pray your hearts live forever!

Psalm 22:25-26

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In previous verses, the writer of Psalm 22 reminds us that God listens to those who suffer. Here, the psalmist continues by showing us what we do with that gift; we invite others who are suffering to eat and praise God.

A friend of mine traveled to Haiti not long ago and worked with children there. She recalled that at one meal the children were being served a simple bowl of food. She was struck that all the children waited until everyone had food. They were waiting, she was told, to make sure everyone had something to eat. If not, they would have shared.

Those who have suffered know how to treat others who are suffering. Perhaps this is why our faith is tied to suffering. When we know what it means to be hungry, we are more likely to feed those who are hungry. And if we know what it means to believe in the midst of that hunger, we also know how to share the love of God.

Stephen Mazingo

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Eternal God, make me to be your outstretched hands to the suffering of the world, that my trials may bring about love and compassion. 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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