The Bruised Reed: A Christian Reflection on Suffering and Hope
This ecumenical resource on the universal experience of suffering and hope weaves together fine art, meaningful reflections and voices from CCC member churches.
As persons and communities belonging to Christ and Christ’s church, we wish to
address, in our own time and place, the paradox of finding hope in suffering, and
suffering in hope. The Faith and Witness Commission was called on to give form and
shape to the paradox; the outcome is the present resource.
As we reflected together on our churches’ work with persons suffering from HIV/AIDS, from
poverty, from other kinds of illness or prejudice or cruelty or violence, Faith and Witness noticed
the word that kept recurring: suffering. We found ourselves turning to the question of how we,
as Christians from various traditions, understand and respond to suffering—not in the abstract,
but in the flesh-and-blood reality of this person bleeding in front of me, this pain in my own
heart, this horrific conflict that gets worse instead of better. Where do we turn, when confronted
with our own or others’ suffering? Why do we go there? What does it mean for us? What is suffering,
and what do we do with it? As we moved more deeply into the question, we discovered
at its depths another recurring word, one that attached itself inseparably to suffering. That word
Overall, we found among our traditions many differences as we ruminated, differences of
expression, differences of focus, and even differences of understanding. But we also found, at
the core of our discussions, much we hold in common that is foundational. It may be that the
foundation, so familiar to us as to be at times invisible, is also the place of greatest recognition
among us. That foundation is hope.