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Suffering and St. Lawrence

Today the Church celebrates the feast of the martyr St. Lawrence, perhaps best known for his wry statement while being grilled to death, “Turn me over, I am done on this side!”  It’s hard to imagine such a reaction in our days of ease and plenty.  In the Common of One Martyr for Morning Prayer we read:

Praised be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all consolation! He comforts us in all our afflictions and thus enables us to comfort those who are in trouble, with the same consolation we have received from him. As we have shared much in the sufferings of Christ, so through Christ do we share abundantly in his consolation.   (2 Cor 1:3-5)

That last line has always struck me:  “As we have shared much in the sufferings of Christ“, more specifically, “As we have” – you’ll notice there’s no equivocation, no questioning whether we will suffer, only a guarantee that when we do we shall “share abundantly in his consolation“.  If we follow Christ suffering will come – the world will not stand idly by without fighting back – but when it does come we have the even greater guarantee of consolation flowing from Him whom we follow.

To me, at least, this serves as a reminder to neither run towards suffering unnecessarily nor to run away from it out of fear, but rather to just do what is right and keep right on moving.  If suffering is to come as a result, it is to come, but no suffering avoided can compare with the consolation that is to come in Him.  Let us only praise God in our fires as did St. Lawrence.

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