Friday, April 15
Joy growing in the fertile soil of suffering
by Catherine Akale
“He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account.” —Isaiah 53:3
Most of us would not encounter God in a visible physical form, the way our spiritual foreparents did. Stories of these encounters teach us that any experience with God invites transformation.
The servant we encounter in Isaiah 53:3 was despised and rejected by the Pharisees who refused to recognize their need for salvation. He threatened their greed for power over people. He felt the pain oppressed people endured and, even today, he understands our struggles as women — suffering yearly cyclones, frequent floodings, droughts, hunger, fears of war, COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, terrorism, gender-based violence — and empathizes with us.
For me, it is the simple things United Women in Faith enables me to do with the marginalized women of my society that brings me the most joy — to alleviate human suffering in the achievement of project successes, in the joyous singing, clapping and dancing at worship, shared laughter, joys and sorrows. It is God whispering in the midst of our pain. It might not be the kind of joy that solves all our earthly problems, but it reminds us that on Good Friday, God wrapped the joyous act of redemption within the sorrows of the same cross where the Salvation of the World suffered untold shame. If we want to encounter God and find joy, we must endure hardship. Joy like the fruit of the spirit grows in the fertile soil of suffering which our amazing God uses to give us hope and a future through Good Friday’s death on the cross.
Catherine Akale is a United Women in Faith regional missionary serving in Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Angola, and ecumenically.