As promised, I’m bringing you another 100 word (or less) story on one of the joyful themes from Philippians (here’s the original post describing my project). For the second week, my church is focusing on suffering and how to be joyful in the midst of it. (Click here to watch or listen to the sermon on this topic.)
The specific sermon text for the week is Philippians 1:12-18. In it, Paul mentions “what has happened to me” and how it has “served to advance the gospel.” If you know anything about Paul, you know that the guy had a rough go of it. He was stoned, shipwrecked a couple times, hungry, sick, and imprisoned. If anybody knew about suffering, it was this guy. In this chapter, Paul’s focus is how his trials can glorify God.
I had a lot of ideas to work with this week, since suffering is a large topic, with lots of possible angles. I decided to write two different stories because I really couldn’t make up my mind which one I wanted to share.
The first story most closely fits with Paul’s message in Philippians 1:12-18. The second is another take on the topic, but from a child and father’s perspective. Both stories are greatly influenced by friends who I’ve seen suffer and glorify God in the midst of it in different ways.
Joy in Suffering #1
“How can you be so happy? I’d be angry!”
“Friend, may I tell you a story?”
“At first, I wanted revenge. The man who raped me knew he was sick, but that didn’t stop him.
When the tests came back positive, I hated that man even more. I wanted to kill him for what he’d done to me and my children.”
“Why didn’t you?”
“A nurse, she told me about Jesus.”
“And did Jesus heal your AIDS?”
“No, but he taught me to forgive. He gave me peace. And he gave me this story, to share with you.”
Joy in Suffering #2
I watched her sleep, tubes connected, in that antiseptic hospital room, monitors displaying all her vitals. She stirred, opened her eyes.
I looked away, pretending to watch the TV. Oh great, another inane late night infomercial for an expensive juicer to “solve all our health problems.”
She took my hand. Those cold, small fingers. “Daddy. You can sleep with mommy tonight. It’s okay.”
I kissed her hand. “I’m not leaving you, sweetie.”
“But I won’t be alone, not tonight.”
“What do you mean?”
She closed her eyes, snuggled into her pillow, and smiled. “The angels are here. They protect me too.”