Suffering for Others / 1 Peter 2:19–25 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday May 3rd 2020 / Season of Easter / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday May 3rd 2020: Season of Easter / 1 Peter 2:19–25 "Suffering for Others"
For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Mel Brooks has said, "Tragedy is when I get a hangnail. Comedy is when someone else falls into an open sewer and dies." We all like to think about suffering on a sliding scale and we often are more concerned about our own suffering than we are about the suffering of others. This isn’t a good thing by the way. St. Peter in our Epistle is counselling against this by pointing us to Jesus Christ as the example of one who considered the suffering of others more important than His own suffering.
Our passage from 1 Peter begins by looking at the nature of suffering breaking it down into different ways that we and others experience suffering: Basically suffering that comes without directly deserving it and suffering that comes to those who are at fault in some way. Suffering that you brought upon yourself because of your sin, the breaking of God’s Law and suffering that was foisted upon you unjustly in that while you are not blameless or completely innocent on the whole you are still experiencing a kind of suffering that came upon you that you had nothing to do with or had no part in whatsoever. This kind comes either because you are sinned against directly or because of the fall into sin that originally impacted and continues to impact all things from the beginning.
Not many years ago, 2013, in Regina there was a woman waiting for the bus at a downtown bus stop when the bus went off course and jumped the curb hitting a street sign. The bus didn’t hit the woman but the street sign came crashing down on her and she died of injuries sustained by the impact of the sign. The driver didn’t intend for it to happen. The woman didn’t intend for it to happen. Neither of them woke up in the morning expecting this or planning it. It was an accident. Were Regina Transit and the City of Regina at fault? They did settle a lawsuit with the Supynuk family in 2018 and The Regina Police Service investigated and subsequently found that the city had failed "to maintain a brake system with mechanical components that are secure, functional or not excessively worn or misaligned."
On the other hand you have Archduchess Mathilda of Austria, daughter of Archduke Albrecht, Duke of Teschen, who died at the age of 18 at the Hetzendorf Palace June 6th 1867. She had put on a dress made of gauze to go to the theatre. Before leaving for the theatre, she wanted to smoke a cigarette but after she lit the cigarette her father, who had forbidden smoking, approached her, and she hid the cigarette behind her dress, immediately setting its very flammable material on fire which then gave her second and third-degree burns that lead to her death. Had she not broken the 4th Commandment and honoured her father’s wishes she would not have been smoking, add to that if she had not hid the cigarette her dress would not have caught on fire. Had she instead repentantly asked for her father’s forgiveness she would not have died of second and third-degree burns and the whole tragedy could have been avoided.
Jesus’ disciple St. Peter puts forward that if you suffer because of your personal sin and you live through it you only have endured what was coming to you on the other hand if you suffer for no fault of your own and you live through it you don’t simply endure you also have the Grace of God. This is what the Christian is called to. To do good and if suffering should come as a result to endure it knowing that such endurance for doing good is God pleasing because it is like the suffering of Christ who was without sin and was undeserving of the suffering that came upon Him in His trial, beating, crucifixion and death. So Peter says “if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps.”
Today we find ourselves in a strange situation. With the threat of covid-19 invisibly waiting at every turn many of us live life in a state of suffering. As of April 30th in Saskatchewan 383 people have contracted covid-19 291 of those people have suffered it and recovered and 6 people have suffered it and died. As of April 9th about 20,900 jobs were lost in Saskatchewan from February to March largely due to the covid-19 pandemic. The number is likely higher now. This then is a time of suffering for many families and individuals because those jobs are connected to actual people in our province. And of course in general people can’t see friends, and family, and in the majority of cases grandparents have not been able to see their grandchildren where they could give them a hug or a kiss on the cheek. This too is suffering.
Many people are left worrying and thinking, praying because of the general anxiety and uncertainty. For example: If you had covid-19, got over it without knowing you had it, but still have to act as if you’ve never had it because you haven’t been tested and you don’t know for certain, so you have to act as if you might currently have it, while also acting as if you don't have it then you simultaneously Had, Have and Don't Have it as far as you know. Then add in that some folks might never get it and you simultaneously Had, Have, Don't Have, and Won't Get It as far as you know: So much uncertainty, so much suffering the unknown. For those who have been tested and have tested negative there is perhaps more certainty maybe and while we have a high rate of testing in Saskatchewan not everyone has been tested so there are many people in this boat. And yet everyone is impacted by the suffering that comes from the threat of covid-19 even if they don’t have it and might not get it or have recovered from it. Some are suffering because they have not been safe or careful others suffer even when they have been safe and careful. And there are those who are doing good who may end up suffering as well. So whether your suffering is as small as a hangnail or as big as falling into an open sewer to your death the Christian needs to remember who they are and what that means even in the midst of suffering. They likewise need to remember that whether it is your needs or the needs of others it is not a laughing matter, in various ways this circumstance has come upon us all whether we are doing good or acting selfishly. When we presently suffer economically, socially, spiritually without contracting covid-19 at the end of the day we suffer for others more than we suffer for ourselves and each day we do so again and again until our collective suffering passes.
Dear ones, you who are baptised into Christ Jesus, let us keep in mind who we are in these days of pandemic: You are ones who belong to Jesus and whether you are in the midst of suffering, should that be great suffering or even small suffering, your ultimate security and safety are not in your hands alone but in Jesus’ hands, this is why St. Peter reminds us that by “[Jesus’] wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” Today we have readings and hymns that focus on Jesus as our Good Shepherd the one who guides us and protects us, the one who will finally lead us to our heavenly home. Whatever the circumstances of our suffering as we endure them we are called to do so while doing good for others as best as we are able remembering that Jesus “Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness,” living to righteous means we do all that we do trusting God and serving the needs of our neighbours. So we need to be patient, we need to use common sense, think of the needs of others first, and continue to trust in God.
Jesus, during His earthly life, even in the hours leading to His death, even as He suffered pain and agony and death upon the cross continually put Himself into His heavenly Father’s Hands. Do likewise. And if people with authority attempt to, or actually do, take advantage of you in these days causing you suffering remember who your true Shepherd is, it is Jesus, all others who would pretend to take a place over and above Him are thieves and robbers and will be held accountable in The End. So if, as a Christian, you do good and subsequently suffer for it, remember “this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.” Pray for all those who have you in their care that they would be wise and kind, that they would work to bring an end to suffering and that they make every decision with the seriousness that is required treating your suffering as a true tragedy not as a comedy. It will be this kind of selfless care of others, this kind of turning away from selfishness that will bear the fruits of love in the midst of suffering. And for all the times you have been selfish and have made poor choices that potentially could have harmed your neighbour, or did harm your neighbour, there is forgiveness for such actions in only one person, in Christ Jesus your Good Shepherd, ask Him for forgiveness for the thoughts, words, and deeds, that have impacted others or yourself negatively; ask Him for forgiveness for what you have done and what you have left undone, even for those things you are unaware of and He will forgive you. For this good and merciful Jesus, your Good Shepherd is the one who shall follow you all the days of your life, and will bring you to dwell in the house of the LORD with Him forever. In your suffering He is with you even if that suffering should lead you through the valley of the shadow of death, because of Him you need not fear evil, you need not fear death, you need not be afraid. Amen
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 City settles lawsuit with family of woman killed by street sign at bus stop in 2013
 Twilight of the Habsburgs: The Life and Times of Emperor Francis Joseph, Alan Palmer, Phoenix Giant (1997) page 158.
 Luke 13:1–5, “There were some present at that very time who told [Jesus] about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And He answered them, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.’” St. Peter was with Jesus when Jesus taught this in Luke 13.
 Nearly 21K jobs lost in Saskatchewan in March due to Covid-19: Statistics Canada reported by Global News.
 Luke 22:41–42, “And [Jesus] withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.’”
 Luke 23:46, “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this He breathed His last.”
 John 10:1–10
 Revelation 22:12–13, Jesus says “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing My recompense with Me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
 Psalm 23