Friday, April 01, 2011

Lent 2011: CARELESS, Persecution and Suffering

For the third week of Lent 2011: Relentless Acts of Justice, we are experiencing the life of a young girl, Sokha, whose life has been dramatically affected by AIDS. Here's her story.

Life is very lonely for Sokha, who faces ridicule and isolation due to the stigma of AIDS. Sokha lost her father due to the disease and must care for her own mother in her illness; who is there to care for Sokha? Through no fault of her own, Sokha faces much of the hardships of her life alone. It might seem hard to imagine if you’ve grown up with one or two (or more) caring family members, but many children in today’s world lack that guidance and care. This week, we will be taking time to experience and understand that reality.

• Wear a piece of clothing every day that will make you stand out in a crowd - something unflattering that will definitely make people take notice.
• Go without any contact/communication with your closest loved one.
• Go without any contact/communication with your typical group of friends.

Please feel free to come up with your own experiences for the week. Commit to something that will allow you to experience the “careless” treatment of Sokha by her community by feeling ostracized.

As a Christian, I often find that my views and opinions are unpopular among my peers at college. We can often feel persecuted for being a follower of Christ in such a secular world. But I know the ridicule that we sometimes experience, similar to what Sokha encounters, is not in vain.

"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven." --Matthew 5:11-12a

Spend the next five minutes asking God for the strength to stand strong when faced with persecution. Thank God for using these seemingly negative events to shape you into His creation.

Sokha felt like she couldn’t sink any lower. Have you ever felt like you’ve hit rock bottom? If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that God has a reason for everything, including all the bad things that happen. As followers of Christ, we are set apart from the world. This applies to our reaction to suffering: we should rejoice!

We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. --Romans 5:3-5

Spend the next five minutes offering up your trials and struggles to God, and thanking Him for His perfect plan and will for your life.

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