Laughing Out Loud

There was a lot of this when some 3,000 WELS teens recently swarmed the grand atrium of the Hyatt Regency in downtown Dallas for the WELS International Youth Rally.

 

But there wasn't any laughing out loud when one of the keynote speakers told about the suffering Christians endured under Emperor Nero. Even though the theme of the rally was Laugh Out Loud, it was dead quiet as the Rally hung on each word, hearing how Nero would lay a Christian family down on the ground, readied for a gruesome execution. Then Nero would ask the father of the family if he still believed in Jesus Christ as his Savior. A "yes" answer triggered in front of his very eyes the painful deaths of his loved ones.

Friends, that's suffering!

You can see it in that father's anguished eyes. It's the same suffering that wells up in the eyes of a wife who watches her husband walk away from their marriage. It's the same suffering cradled in the eyes of the man who doesn't think he'll make it home from the hospital this time. It's the same suffering reflected from the eyes of a young lady pushed out of the home and abandoned by the man she once called "Daddy."

Souls crushed in suffering. These are the very souls for whom the Heavenly Father reaches out through the embrace of his own Son, whose arms were pinned to the cross to give us eternal life. For all who endure suffering that words cannot capture, and that tears cannot relieve, there is the Spirit of the Father who pours out the cleansing, healing love of the crucified and risen Jesus. Here is heaven-sent medicine that doesn't just dry tears, but puts a smile on the face of the suffering soul. Here is the Almighty's power that works from suffering, the sure hope that God is unfolding a grand and glorious plan that has no end.

"Not only so, but 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 out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us" (Romans 5:3-5).

In this world you will suffer, warned Jesus (John 16:33). But when you taste the salt of your own tears, you can actually smile. Why? Because you are spirited to know that your Savior God knows that taste, too. And you are spirited to know how he went to hell and back to make your suffering worthwhile.

Laugh Out Loud!