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Afflicted, but not crushed (Oct. 14, 2004)

Afflicted, but not crushed (Oct. 14, 2004)

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Afflicted, but not crushed

Oct. 14, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140     Orlando  {0181}

NOTE:  A headshot of Whitaker is available at

An e-Review Commentary
By Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker**

Following Hurricane Jeanne, everybody I met was simply tired. The strain of worry about the destruction of life and property and the disruption of our normal lives had taken its toll. Most of us had survived without serious harm. Imagine the stress recent hurricanes have caused in our sisters and brothers who have lost their homes, their jobs or their loved ones. And let us not forget the devastation to our neighbors in Haiti and the Dominican Republic and other islands where the death toll is tragic and heartbreaking.

We haven't lost our sense of humor. We have laughed at the jokes like the cartoon in "The New Yorker" featuring a couple in Florida saying, "We came, we saw, we hunkered down." Yes, we have been hunkering down, and, frankly, we are tired of it!

A more inspiring message comes from the apostle Paul, who described the experience that he and his fellow workers for the gospel had known: "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)."

That is the spirit of those who know the presence, purpose and power of the living God at work within them through faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Most of us feel the need for help and rest. We need an emotional replenishment through sharing with our friends. Also, perhaps more than we realize, we need the spiritual refreshment of prayer and worship.
The 20th century Swiss theologian Karl Barth said that a human being is a soul with a body. The soul is the invisible and interior dimension of a person who does not exist without a body. Thus, one could describe a human being as "bodily soul" or "besouled body" (Church Dogmatics, III.2, page 350). Yet, a human being also has spirit. Spirit is not "a third thing beside soul and body" (page 363), but it is the relationship between God and us. This spirit is the relationship between God and a human being caused by the activity of the Holy Spirit of God. Without spirit, body and soul languish and, indeed, cannot even exist (pages 354-366).
It is through prayer and worship that our spirits are revived. Through hearing the Word of God and participating in Holy Communion in the gathered and visible Body of Christ and by contemplation and prayer, the Spirit of God enlivens our spirit, which strengthens us in body and soul.
We all understand the joy everyone feels when "the power" comes on. The big question we ask one another (unless our damage was far greater) is, "Have you gotten the power yet?" There is another power we need beside electricity. It is the power of God's Spirit for our spirits that gives us the awareness that while we may be afflicted in every way, we are not crushed.

This commentary relates to Christian Faith.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Whitaker is bishop of the Florida Conference.