Learning Not to Be Surprised by Suffering

Christians, are you suffering right now?

And does this suffering surprise you?

As followers of Christ, with him as our example, we must know that the Cross is necessary for salvation, that suffering is part of living life in his footsteps.

  • I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34 
  • Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you. Matthew 5:11
  • Take up your cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23
  • Whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it. Luke 9:24
  • Do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you. 1 Peter 4:12
  • The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. (Tertullian)

I’ve had my own small taste of this suffering.

Every time the cross hit I’ve railed against it. I’ve been caught off guard, surprised by the intensity of the pain.

There have been days when all I could do was cry, days when I could hardly get out of bed, days when I literally pulled at my hair in desperation.

I have pushed back at the crosses of my life instead of embracing them. I have been confounded at the experience of pain and loss.

Things are tough right now.
Every one of us has heavy crosses to bear.

And if we’ve been pulling away from those crosses, then it’s time to learn to embrace them.

I’m far from perfect at this but I’m trying.

Some may have been annoyed that I seemed to be “living my best life” during the pandemic. I’ve embraced the opportunity to paint, to try new art, to cook, to slow down, to go to parks with friends.

I have my days, my moments, my weeks in which I fall apart. But I continue to seek peace in the midst of this turmoil.

And in my experience with secondary infertility – it’s a heavy cross, and I definitely have moments where I fail to trust and I feel like giving up and it all seems like too much and I stumble under the burden on my way to Calvary.

But then I get back up and embrace this cross again, knowing that even though I don’t understand how or why, Christ wills me to carry this cross for my good.

In that knowledge, there is peace and joy in the midst of suffering.

And when my eczema flares and I lose strength in my hands so that I can hardly tie a shoelace or button a button… so that I need to ask my 9-year-old’s help to open a jar of peanut butter in order to feed my kids lunch… so that washing my hands is an experience of agony for the open wounds in my skin… and I am utterly exhausted by the pain and effort of getting through the day…

I think of my Savior on the cross and of the pain he endured.

I see him in my mind’s eye suffering physically in every inch of his body, suffering intensely in his heart from the pain of the sins of the whole world, suffering mental agony at the thought of all souls who would still be lost because they reject his gift of self, his sacrifice for them.

He suffered before me.
He suffered for me.
He showed me the way.

And now, when I take up my cross, I make up for what is lacking in his suffering. Namely, my very participation, my willingness to suffer with him.

Christ does not promise us peace and comfort in this life.

When I begin to expect a life of ease, then the cross surprises me, crushes me, defeats me.

No, Christ came to bring not peace but the sword. The Cross. Redemptive suffering.

When the cross comes my way, I must strive to embrace it, kiss it, carry it bravely, rejoice in this opportunity to share in my Lord’s suffering.

His yoke is easy, and his burden is light.

It’s a lesson I’m learning, as I begin to trust in him, as I begin to lean into the crosses of life instead of trying to run away.

Do not be surprised by the Cross, when it comes your way.

Instead, embrace it with a prayer for fortitude on your lips. Pick it up and carry it bravely in the footsteps of our King.

Blessed are you who suffer with him.
Your reward will be great in heaven.

My Jesus, helped me to carry the crosses in my day, the crosses of this year, the crosses of my life as a follower of Christ, of you the true king.

Give me fortitude. Give me peace.

Keep my eyes on you when all seems lost.

Help me find joy in my suffering and boast in my weakness. Help me get up again every time I fall.

Help me be faithful to this road, this Way of the Cross.

Amen

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great post

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