Meaning in Suffering

Matthew 12:14-21
Ex 12:37-42 / Psa 105

He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick until He brings justice to victory. And in His name the Gentiles will hope.
(Matthew 12:20-21)

In our weakness He makes us strong,
He comforts us when we are stressed;
And when we stray, rights every wrong,
In God alone do we find rest.

The Pharisees went out and conspired against him to put Him to death. When Jesus became aware of this, He departed from that place. Many people followed him, and he cured them all, but He ordered them not to make Him known. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ‘Here is My servant, whom I have chosen, My beloved, with whom I am well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon Him, and He will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick until He brings justice to victory. And in His name the Gentiles will hope.’ (Matthew 12:14-21)

Reflection

Jesus cured all who came to Him for healing or were possessed by demons, but He told them not to make His miracles known. This was to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah, who spoke of Him: “He will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not contend or cry out, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.” (Isaiah 42:1-2) Jesus did not want to become so popular that the Jews might make Him a political leader or a king against the Roman conquerors. That would defeat the real purpose of His mission. As the prophet Isaiah had portrayed Him, (“He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick”), Jesus was in all respects gentle and meek, predisposed to forgive sinners, heal the sick, strengthen the weak, enlighten the ignorant, comfort the sorrowful, and take the side of the oppressed. As He said, “Come to Me, you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Mt.11:28)

One of our Rotary club’s past presidents gave a moving life testimony about his bouts with cancer. About 17 years ago, a lobe of his right lung was diagnosed with a malignant tumor, and was surgically removed successfully. Four years later, however, his urinary bladder and prostate turned up positive with the same type of cancer. And again a miraculous healing intervened. This was when he decided to serve the Lord by becoming a member of a renewal community. For the next seven years, this brother in Christ had become so convicted in serving the Lord that he decided to retire from his work as a bank executive to serve full time in his community. But just when he had made that decision, another medical check-up revealed that the tumors had spread in his internal organs. I wondered why God allowed him to undergo such trials when he was already doing his best to serve Him. Now I understood.

God uses the body’s sickness for the healing of the soul, just as it is the weak and the innocent that He employs to display His power and wisdom. It is the humble man whom God exalts. It is the smallest of seeds that He makes to become “the largest of plants, where the birds of the air make their nests.” (Mt.13:32) And in many instances, it is His worst enemies, like Saul, who turn out to be the greatest of His missionaries (as St. Paul). Even Judas Iscariot played a part in His salvation plan. As ‘bruised reeds’ and ‘flickering wicks’, our greatest weaknesses can at times be used by God to become our greatest contributions for His kingdom’s glory.

It is in trusting You completely, Father God, that we find meaning in our sufferings.

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