Recently, I have spent a lot of time thinking about suffering and my desire to avoid it at all costs. It sucks to suffer. End of story. January was laden with suffering and loss for a few of my friends; 3 funerals in 3 weeks to remember the lives of 2 fathers and 1 son. Grief and sorrow have a way of lingering. Jesus agreed with this sentiment as reflected in Matthew 26:38, where he stated, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death…” Again, suffering sucks. The unsettling truth is that as a follower of Jesus, I should not only come to expect the blessings of God, but with great certainty I should be mindful that suffering is also on the path of sanctification. Difficult truth. And it sucks.
believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment
“Following Jesus wholeheartedly means facing the “most brutal facts of our current reality, whatever they might be” while holding on to our absolute certainty that we “prevail in the end” through his love and grace.” – Rick Lawrence, Jesus-Centered Life
I observed a lot of natural beauty during my time in South Africa, but there was nothing more beautiful than the comfort of a friendship that has lasted 13 years. There was no pretense. I liken it to the comfort of a good pair of old jeans. They have holes, they aren’t perfect, but they fit in all the right places.
I thought my time in South Africa would leave me only longing to ease the suffering of strangers. That occurred. I didn’t know that my time in South Africa would teach me in part, how to lament with the suffering saint and also teach me that suffering/sorrow/grief has no zip code.
I want Jesus; fully and completely. However, I still don’t want to suffer, but if I must, may I do so by leaning into Jesus and loosening my grip on all the things I’ve deemed too precious to lose.