Suffering and Grace

Jesus calling His disciples
The Gospel today was from the Book of Mark where James and John want the seats of honor in the New Kingdom of Glory. Jesus tells them they surly will be drinking the cup of suffering and woe that is a baptism of kind that keep them in the same calling as His. However to those seats of honor are for others. The whole concept of following Jesus means that one will be drinking a cup of suffering just as he has.

I follow Suzanne Guthrie’s blog, Come to the Garden (she attended and graduated from the same semniary as I did).

From Suzanne Guthries’ blog [http://ammaguthrie.wordpress.com/2012/10/08/soul-devouring-poverty/ ] Suzanne says near the end…
“Suffering opens my soul to love. And when my suffering meets God’s suffering, we become one in that suffering, incarnate in the world, bearing this suffering for I-Know-Not-What. Christian practice helps me to trust living in the incomprehensible vortex of the cross. My suffering, your suffering, God’s suffering, bringing forth new life. How can I bear this joy?” -Suzanne

http://ammaguthrie.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/the-alchemy-of-suffering/#comments

A fellow reader Tony Burkart replies: October 16, 2012 at 2:23
“I can’t help but think of Flannery O’Conner’s short story, “A Good Man Is Hard To Find.” Amidst horrendous circumstances, eyes meet, soul’s melt for a fraction of temporal time, not a Hollywood ending but something profoundly changes in the reader if personal vulnerability fuses with Grace.”

This leads me to wonder just how does one’s vulnerability fuse with Grace? It sounds delightful and encouraging that one in the midst of weakness, calamity, desease, can be “fused” with “hope” or God’s Grace.
Okay, but how does one understand what that means? What does it mean this “fused”? Is it a communion of soul and mind, that one can feel and understand? Or can we only hope and trust that Grace is holding us up?
I wonder do we need stories like the one Tony refers to in his reply to illustrate the experience? Can this experience of being fused with grace be understood by recognizing or identifying with what seems to be said in this description of sharing suffering? I wonder too if this idea of “being fused with grace” can be communicated to one who has not experienced this sharing of suffering or grace? Am I making myself clear?

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One thought on “Suffering and Grace

  1. ammaguthrie commented on The Alchemy of Suffering from her blog

    in response to Diane:

    From Suzanne Guthries’ blog [ http://ammaguthrie.wordpress.com/2012/10/08/soul-devouring-poverty/%5D I quote: “Suffering opens my soul to love. And when my suffering meets God’s suffering, we become one in that suffering, incarnate in the world, bearing this suffering for I-Know-Not-What. Christian practice helps me to trust living in the incomprehensible vortex of the cross. My suffering, your suffering, God’s […]
    Great questions, Diane. How? The real horror of suffering, especially physical pain, is how isolating it is. Chronic pain is so insidious because all that’s left in your life is the pain. It’s evil in that way. It un-connects you to everything and everyone – the opposite of spiritual practice. But I guess what I was trying to say in too hurried and poetic a way, is that SOMETIMES suffering itself connects rather than isolates. I remember just before I was divorced, I had an uncanny, even sort of psychic awareness of other women who were abused. Some I knew were abused, because I’d heard their stories, and some – well, the hair literally stood up on my arms near them. I was not alone. And in fact, some of those women helped me to get out. Maybe it’s because they helped me without asking any questions, that I connected so deeply. They connected with me. How does vulnerability fuse with grace? I never think about the how, but I marvel that it does. But, since you’ve made me think about it (THANK YOU !) my response would be that spiritual disciplines of habit – like working on awareness of poverty of spirit for example, knowing your vulnerabilities, helps, and then there’s that intellectual shift where you realize God – whatever God is – is … vulnerable. That not only I suffer, but God suffers in me. I can connect to God this way. And then, when I see injustice, etc. I can connect to God’s suffering again and again, not just through my own life, but in a suffering world. But I bet you’re still asking ‘how’ … Anyway, I wish you were hovering over the chapter I’m working on now, pinning me down like this. Maybe I’ll imagine you over my shoulder… Thanks again, Diane!

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