Writing to the Christians of Corinth about his sufferings and tribulations, Saint Paul links his faith to his preaching of the Gospel. In himself he sees fulfilled the passage of Scripture which reads: ‘I believed, and so I spoke’ (2 Cor 4:13). The reference is to a verse of Psalm 116, in which the psalmist exclaims: ‘I kept my faith, even when
I said, “I am greatly afflicted”’
(v. 10).

To speak of faith often involves speaking of painful testing, yet it is precisely in such testing that Paul sees the most convincing proclamation of the Gospel, for it is in weakness and suffering that we discover God’s power which triumphs over our weakness and suffering. The apostle himself experienced a dying which would become life for Christians (cf. 2 Cor 4:7-12). In the hour of trial faith brings light, while suffering and weakness make it evident that ‘we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord’ (2 Cor 4:5).

The eleventh chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews concludes with a reference to those who suffered for their faith (cf. Heb 11:35-38); outstanding among these was Moses, who suffered abuse for the Christ (cf. v. 26).

Christians know that suffering cannot be eliminated, yet it can have meaning and become an act of love and entrustment into the hands of God who does not abandon us; in this way it can serve as a moment of growth in faith and love. By contemplating Christ’s union with the Father even at the height of his sufferings on the cross (cf. Mk 15:34), Christians learn to share in the same gaze of Jesus.

Even death is illumined and can be experienced as the ultimate call to faith, the ultimate ‘Go forth from your land’ (Gen 12:1), the ultimate ‘Come!’ spoken by the Father, to whom we abandon ourselves in the confidence that He will keep us steadfast even in our final passage.

This article can be found in Mirror 0315.