Philip was born into India’s Dalit caste, which is ostracized by and excluded from society in many ways. When he was eight years old, the high-caste village teacher allowed Philip to attend school. But he made him sit in the back of the classroom on a stack of dried cow patties used as fuel—for the entire year.
Philip wanted to fit in. He tried to play tag with the other children, but nobody would touch him, believing he was unclean. They called him demeaning names and ignored him. Adults were also cruel, including a storekeeper who forced him to wash his rupees before allowing him to buy milk. He, along with others in his caste, was despised and rejected, suffering lifelong abuse.
Through the Holy Spirit’s work, Philip became a Christian. He committed his life to sharing the hope of Jesus with other Dalits. He drew strength from knowing that like him, Jesus had suffered greatly, too.
Sorrow is part of the human condition. We live in a sinful and broken world full of rejection, loss and pain. We’ve all experienced suffering and grief and have seen injustices committed against groups of people. At times, our woundedness can even cause us to become perpetrators of hurt toward others.
Isaiah writes of the anticipated Messiah who will one day come to save God’s people. Isaiah’s prophecies describe Him with words of power, strength and righteousness. But Isaiah also includes what are known as the “servant songs,” portraying the Messiah as a suffering servant. In the course of bringing hope and healing to the world, Jesus would also endure rejection, pain, humiliation and death.
Jesus willingly suffered on our behalf, becoming acquainted with grief to welcome us into the abundant life of His Kingdom. We can take comfort when we honestly share our pain with Him and open ourselves to His healing grace.
Make this your prayer today: Lord, I offer all I am to You, inviting You into even the most painful places of my life. May Your joy and light break through my suffering by the power of Christ. Help me sit with others in their suffering and offer the hope and promise of Your Good News.