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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Next Day

Whether from my solid dose of Catholic roots or from those of my German Lutheran theological heritage, I have a good sense of guilt and am fairly well-versed in the practical idea that suffering means I'm closer to God. I even suspect sometimes that this may be what convinced our family to return to Minnesota winters from the relative bliss of southern California.

But even though I think I know that following Jesus means the way of the Cross, I often find myself missing that message when it comes to raising my two small boys. The modern parenting ethos is light on suffering. Too often I fall into the trap of creating a perfectly curated, Instagram-worthy existence for my four-year-old and one-year-old sons. Their crying pierces my soul, and yet it is that crying and struggle that forges children from infants and adults from teenagers. When I think I can create a world free of suffering--even for my children--the witness of Jesus reminds me otherwise. We worship a God who brings forth life out of death.

Lord Jesus, remind me that you are Lord and I am only parent, or caregiver, or friend or guide. Grant me humility when seeing the pain in my loved one's lives, in knowing that you are present in the midst of chaos or even death and that following you is not pain-free. Amen.

Angela Denker, '13
Pastor and Freelance Writer, Minneapolis, Minn.

Matthew 16:21-28 (NRSV)

21 From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you."
23 But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things."
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
26 For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
27 "For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done.
28 Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.