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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Then Jesus began to teach his disciples: “The Human One must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and the legal experts, and be killed, and then, after three days, rise from the dead.” He said this plainly. But Peter took hold of Jesus and, scolding him, began to correct him. Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, then sternly corrected Peter: “Get behind me, Satan. You are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts.”

Mark 8:31-33

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So, why does God have to suffer? If God is all-powerful, why come down to earth, take the human form, and then die in one of the worst ways imaginable?

There are a lot of answers to this question — why? — but the one that strikes me the hardest is, simply, because we suffer. We have to endure pain, sometimes undeserved, and we die, sometimes in pretty horrible ways. Imagine if Jesus hadn’t suffered. Imagine that Jesus came, had an awesome time, and then just went back up to heaven. Prayer might go like this: “God I’m having a hard time, but you understand… oh wait, you don’t.”

Jesus does understand, because he was totally human. He has been through it all, life and death. I have a saying that I never ask anyone to do something I would be unwilling to do myself. Christians are often asked to keep faith through unimaginable suffering. I believe they are able to do it because they know they are not alone.

Stephen Mazingo

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Thank you God for sending your Son to live with us and suffer for us. May I come to know you better through Jesus Christ. 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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